Below is a small sample of the artwork by my great grandfather (please remember that much of the work is what he did not sell and therefore is not his best work), like me, he worked in a variety of mediums including tapestry design, painting, carving, sculpture and stained glass. And, as he lived a long life (creating right up to the end), he had time to experiment with style and subject from; stained glass widows in Rome, tapestry designs for the Cambridge Tapestry Company, portraits including dignitaries, from very realistic dutch style still lifes and very large landscapes to very abstract paintings and sculpture. One week he could be completing a well paid commission and the next, painting a local pub sign or a Chivers (as in the Jam producers) van.
Kenneth claimed he was born on the Irish sea. However, the birth registration records he was born to Jonas Smith and Mary Ellen (nee Baldwin) Smith at Lime Cottage, Waterford, Ireland. Family members recount that Jonus worked as a municipal gardner, later head gardner, and his work took him to the Isle of Man, Ireland, and then back to Nelson, Lancashire where the family settled and Kenneth grew up. Like so many, as soon as he was old enough, Kenneth worked as a weaver in the local mill. During this period, he attented evening school at the local art college but his studies were curtailed by WW1 and volunteered, along with his brother Ernest, for the East Lancashire Regiment, seeing action as a despatch rider in The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, and Mesopotamia (Iraq). After the war he studied at The Royal College of Art (RCA) alongside Reco Capey and William Rothenstein and graduated in 1923 with an ARCA Diploma in Design. Kenneth married an actress, who had appeared in the film titled 'The Blue Lamp', and togethor they lived in Chelsea and very much part of the bohemian life. At some point (not sure of dates) they travelled to Rome where worked with stained glass. Togethor they had two children, Keith (my grandfather) and Sheila Joyce, however the marriage failed and he moved to Cambridge where he later remarried and set up Kenwin Studio.
He worked as designer in the 1930s at the Tapestries by Cambridge Tapestry Company at Anglesey Abbey, my aunt Joyce once showed me a large portfolio of sketches and notes for what would become tapestries and seat coverings.
I was fortunate enough to know him for the first fourteen years of my life, enjoying holidays by his side, watching sketch and paint usually in Devon and Cornwall. In addition, visiting him at weekends, eager to see what he had on his easel and to eat his ginger biscuits. However, my abiding memory is the smell of pipe tobacco and very strong coffee that was constantly on the stove. Even when I was very young, he would always encourage me to draw and later gave me my first set of oil paints and brushes. I would be very grateful if owners of his artwork could send me photos of his work.