A Mann -
a Sort of Biograph

Alan Mann - the artist at work

A jest in sober earnest: that is how I often see my life. It would dismay your typically ambitious person with my sheer lack of it. I have been content to earn a living and support my people as best I can, belt and braces style.

The war wiped out a lot of extra dimensional activity and mental exploration from the childish mind. Further education was something my parents hardly envisaged, for they too were part of the decent but downtrodden poor. Only when I reached the age of forty did I discover my IQ of 120 or thereabouts. Previously I had thought myself a bit slow and a bit thick. So I trained as a child care officer for employment in local government.

Then, under the Seebohm Plan, we lost our child care status and became mere social workers; and that was the beginning of the downward path. The dreaded child catcher turned into a figure of derision, a fumbling do-gooder who achieved more self-inflicted harm than positive good. Lampooned by the media for hesitancy, for terrible mistakes made in the public domain even after weighty conference; panic grew until the service became an inferno of fear and rage.

At age 55 I had endured enough and retired.

Then Lizzie and I spent 11 years in Tenerife running holiday apartments. It was then I started painting. My first commission was from one of our regular visitors who asked me to paint his RAF Venom fighter from 1955 when he was then a serving officer. That piece was followed by a commission to paint his house and grounds. Another visitor asked me to paint Los Cristianos harbour.

Another commission was Renton Walker's Westland Lysander. Renton was in the RAF even before the Battle of Britain. I did his plane for his 80th birthday.

Other pieces followed on our return to Britain in 1996, not through gallery exhibitions.but by the most casual means. Major Bob (Riding Out) and Horace were two of them. Miss Rosie and the Great White Bird was a fun thing and hangs in this house.

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