THE grandson of a North-East lighthouse keeper who went on to become one of the country’s most renowned maritime artists is to be celebrated at an exhibition.
The Naval Art of Frank Henry Mason will be staged at Ushaw, on the outskirts of Durham, from September 22 to November 10.
Mason was born in Seaton Carew in 1875, and, despite being the son of a railway clerk, he had a lifelong love of the sea.
When his family moved to Bradford in the early 1880s, young Frank stayed in Seaton Carew, living with his grandfather, Horace Henry Harbord, the lighthouse keeper under the Tees Conservatory.
By the age of 11, Frank was working on his grandfather’s brig, delivering coal from West Hartlepool to Sussex. He went on to study practical seafaring skills on the naval training ship, HMS Conway, before becoming a marine engineer.
When his father, Felix, moved to Scarborough, Frank found himself back living with his family. Inspired by a group of artists who were often seen painting harbour views, he gave up engineering around 1895 to become a professional artist.
Despite having no formal training, Mason thrived and was backed by Scarborough’s premier art dealer, Haydon Hare, as he painted views of Scarborough and other North-East coastal scenes.
By 1902, Mason had been elected to the Staithes Art Club and he became a member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1904.
Following the outbreak of the First World War, Mason joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and his duties included patrolling the Suez Canal.
After the war, his career as a poster artist took off and he earned a contract from the London and North Eastern Railway company to supply exclusive designs. He moved to London and his work was featured in major magazines of the day.
His skills as a poster artist saw him being used during the Second World War, including being asked to design a Navy recruitment poster, entitled “The British Navy guards the freedom of us all.”
He died of a heart attack in 1965, having left a fine body of work. Forty of his paintings will go on show in the William Allen Gallery at Ushaw.
More details of events and exhibitions at Ushaw can be found at www.ushaw.org