Obituary: Friend of Royal Academy painter from Kentish Town remembers a ‘gentle’ and ‘modest’ man
- Credit: Archant
A painter who regularly featured in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition and lived in Kentish Town for nearly 60 years has died aged 87.
Figurative painter Norman Miller, who lived in Willes Road, was best known for his intensely poetic and mysterious paintings, initially of acrobats, clowns and trapeze artists, and latterly of landscapes and gardens, populated with a repertory of figures and birds.
His later works were richly autobiographical with the male and female figures unquestionably representing himself and his wife of more than 60 years, Norma.
The landscape was unmistakably based on his daily walks from Parliament Hill Fields to Kenwood House. These pieces won him a quiet but distinct reputation with collectors.
He died on Monday, May 6 from cancer after a fall sent him into a coma.
You may also want to watch:
Born in Leeds in 1926 to a family of Russian-Jewish background, Mr Miller trained at Leeds and Bradford schools of art in the late 1940s before coming to live and work in London.
He supported himself through a series of part-time jobs, including acting, grave-digging, gardening and graphic design.
- 1 Royal Free's critical care beds 98pc full as Covid-19 cases top 500
- 2 Hospital staff describe 'distressing' battle against rising Covid cases
- 3 Is lockdown working in north London? Here's what the latest data tells us
- 4 Joan Bakewell fires legal threat to government over second Covid jab
- 5 Mikel Arteta 'excited' by Arsenal's appointment of Richard Garlick
- 6 Camden man charged with prostitution offences and sexual exploitation
- 7 One in ten people without symptoms Covid positive at Haringey centres
- 8 Lord's Cricket Ground used as Covid-19 vaccination centre
- 9 Housing: Billionaire owner of 'squalid shoeboxes' must 'up its game'
- 10 Royal Mail delays in Hornsey 'could see Covid-19 vaccination letters missed'
By 1960 he worked for British Telecom as a night- time telephonist but painted during the day. Gradually, he began to find some success with circus themes and scenes of children in parks and landscape settings.
Mr Miller’s style of surrealistic darkness delicately fused Chagall and Klee, Picasso and Douanier Rousseau, with a touch of L.S. Lowry.
These paintings gained him a gallery in the world famous art district of Cork Street in Mayfair and he exhibited at a number of other mixed shows at the Piccadilly and Portal galleries.
From 1985 onwards, he became a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy and his success there meant he could start raising his prices to the point where he could finally give up his BT job and focus on painting full-time.
At this stage, his work took a distinct shift of direction as he started to adopt a much more precise style.
Apart from his regular showings at the Academy, the highlight of his later career was the major retrospective show I helped him to organise with the Belgrave Gallery, then in England’s Lane, in 1998. It was a virtual sell-out and helped introduce Norman’s work to a whole new circle of collectors.
A lover of friends, fun and company, Norman was a humorous, gentle and modest man.
He was, in fact, painting right up until shortly before he died and was planning another major show earlier this year, an idea it is hoped can be revived before too long.
He is survived by wife Norma, sister Lily Rosenberg and goddaughter Sarah Gillies.