‘Martin Roots, c. 1959, The man from Dorset’, (2012), oil on canvas, 80 x 120 cm.2012
Martin Roots (b Poole, 1938) was a tall, handsome man with a deep voice and hooded eyes who came from the southern county of Dorset. He was a fellow art student at Newcastle upon Tyne in the 1950s, a friend and the best man at my wedding. He introduced me to the writer Thomas Hardy and the novel Jude the Obscure. Martin was an aesthete - he enjoyed good food, wine, women, Japanese prints and Cezanne - but he was also an early supporter of CND - hence the badge on his green velvet jacket - and participated in street marches in Newcastle in 1958 led by traditional jazz bands. Martin was a talented painter but did not pursue an art career aggressively. After moving down in London in the 1960s, he taught art in secondary schools. He then returned to Dorset, lived on a small farm (Crate Hill Cottage, Sturminster Newton) in the depths of the country, and taught art at Clayesmore (Iwerne Minster, Blandford) an independent co-educational boarding school, for many years. He was a much loved teacher and colleague. He married late in life (2004) and then developed heart trouble. He died suddenly from a heart attack in January 2010. The upper background image is of a Southern Railways' 1930s poster for Dorset to indicate his close connection to Hardy country. My somewhat belated portrait was intended as a tribute to his memory.
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