Country’s top butterfly artist dies, aged 76

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RYE artist Brian Hargreaves has died aged 76 following a heart-attack on September 30.

He lived at Playden with wife Joyce, also an artist and author, and was an active member of Iden and Playden Garden Society.

Brian was the foremost butterfly artist in the country, illustrating the Collins Guide to Butterflies of Britain and Europe, published in nine languages,

He was commissioned by the Royal Entomological Society to paint butterflies in the grounds of Buckingham Palace and his work was presented to the Queen on her Silver and Golden wedding anniversary. His illustrations grace postage stamps from all over the world.

Brian’s work gained him international recognition, following radio and television broadcasts.

He was born in Sutton-in-Craven, Yorkshire, went to Keighley Grammar School and trained at Keighley School of Arts and Crafts and Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, where he met wife Joyce.

After gaining a National Diploma of Design, he worked for a number of years restoring well-known churches of London, cathedrals from all over the country and the Houses of Parliament.

His crowning achievement was gilding the ball and cross on top of St Paul’s Cathedral.

He illustrated ‘Butterflies on my Mind’ by Dulcie Gray, the actress, who is Vice President of the British Butterfly Conservation Society. This book won the Times Educational Supplement Senior Information Book Award.

He jointly illustrated the ‘Field Guide of West Indian Butterflies’ and the butterfly and moth section of the ‘Field Guide of British Insects’.

He designed and illustrated the ‘Collins Gem Guide to Butterflies’ and completed two volumes of ‘British Torticoid Moths’ and illustrated four volumes of ‘Moths & Butterflies of Britain & Ireland’.

Brian designed and illustrated 24 plates of illustrations for ‘Pests, Diseases and Disorders of Garden Plants’ which won him a Gold Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society, and more recently illustrated a ‘Field Guide of Caterpillars and their Food Plants’, published by Collins, which also won a Gold Medal from the R.H.S..

He has exhibited his work widely including the Royal Academy, the Commonwealth Institute in both London and Edinburgh, the Moorland, Trion, Medici and Loggia Galleries in London, and throughout Britain and Europe. He also lectured on the subjects of painting butterflies and gilding. He has illustrated about 50 postage stamps for Norfolk Island, Cocos [Keeling] Islands, Togo, Gabon and Summer Island in Scotland.

Last year he released a book Exploring Rye with Brian Hargreaves and followed it this year with Exploring Romney Marsh with Brian Hargreaves after extensive field reseatch of the area. Both were filled with his much admired detailed line drawings.

Brian’s eye for detail emerged from when he was a student at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and took architecture as one of his subjects.

Brian’s funeral takes place today (Friday) at Hastings Cematorium.