Published 12th January 2017
The artist law-beaker, Jim Gilbert (1933-1995) grew up in the East End of London and was dishonourably discharged from National Service, aged 21. He was a big, powerful man who spent years in jail for crimes ranging from drug smuggling to robbery.
Confined in the 1960s, he began painting as a form of therapy. Many of his figure paintings, in the well observed style of say, Peter Howson, are worked with a sombre, narrow palette and reflect, in a self-reflective and isolated way, his harsh life experiences.
In 1972, Gilbert had his first show in Bath. He received the Arthur Koestler Award for Prisoner Art and in 1973 was chosen by The Dylan Thomas Society to paint a portrait of the Thomas for presentation to US President Jimmy Carter.
His later works of Morocco and Spain, where he died, are sensitive, calm and gentle watercolours. The picture sale on 24th January 2017 has a small collection of East End oil paintings by Gilbert that depict drunkards in busy bar interiors, street scenes, market traders and local school children. The paintings have an earthy frankness and reality expressing human character from the centre of a tight knit East End community. Estimates range from £50 upwards.