Bernard Walker

Hugh Walker, the son of the late artist, composer and Bournemouth School teacher Bernard Walker has been in touch to share his online tribute to his father’s life. The website has a variety of material from Mr Walker senior’s life, including some of his programme designs and playbills from his time at the school that were found among his papers in 2014.

8 thoughts on “Bernard Walker

  1. Thank you for this tribute, good memories of my ‘O’ level art classes, the understanding of perspective is still with me, I do wish I kept up with the bookbinding!
    Good memories of a most excellent teacher.
    John Oliver 1959-66.

  2. Thank you for doing that Hugh. Fond memories of your father of course, and nice to see you’re still around. Recollect you are the same age as me almost exactly, Nov 1943. Also spotted my 13yr old self in one of the school theatre images.

  3. ‘Bernie’ as he was affectionately known, was a marvellous teacher driven by enthusiasm and commitment. His knowledge was extensive and profound, and he would mine this to offer us nuggets of fascinating facts to guide our learning. I remember him actually running to the back of the art room in his eagerness to find an object to demonstrate an aspect of the lesson. An example of his progressive teaching is when he played us Flanders’ and Swann’s ‘The Honeysuckle and the Bindweed’ to demonstrate left and right handed spirals. As the record played, he made a pretence of peeking out of the classroom door to check if the headmaster was approaching. We were gleeful.

    We also learned from him lessons outside the curriculum: when we returned from a summer break, it became known that Bernard and his great friend, Mr Petoello had taken a holiday together in Italy and had disagreed on just about every work of art they had seen. “Wasn’t that unpleasant?” we asked. “On the contrary,” said Bernard, “What is the use of agreeing on everything when you can enjoy a view that opposes your own?”

    Bernard’s rigorous teaching and wide rangling, Renaissance mind launched me on my career in art and design through his diligent and construcively critical guidance. When I wrote to him, having secured a coveted place on a degree course in Fine Art in which there were 300 applicants for every place (you can be accepted now with a Tesco Club Card), and pointed out his constant criticism, he replied, “He chastiseth him whom he loveth”.

    I saw him for the last time when I called for tea many years later. In his eighties, he was perched at the top of a ladder when I arrived, painting window frames. Over tea, he divulged several staff room secrets that made me realise that our masters knew more about us than he relaised. One revelation indicates that our teachers were as mischievous as we were: the three Mr Smiths each had a nickname. There was the Reverend Smith, the Irreverent Smith (English) and the Irrelevant Smith (Music). I was lucky that Bernard was my teacher and my mentor.

  4. I remember how Bernie instilled in us a reverence for the city of Ravenna, which I made sure to visit as soon as I could, some years later. I alas was singularly inept at making art in any form, and was consigned to the “dunces” row in the class, and eventually allowed to switch to learning German instead of this and several other of my weakest subjects.

  5. I can recall my surprise on learning the “Johnnie Walker” (as he was known to my class) had also taught my father.

    My favourite memory of his class was how readily he would abandon the topic and tell us about his adventures in Europe.

    I last saw him on OverCliff Drive, in an open sports car, hair and beard flowing in the wind and looking very pleased with life.

    A wonderful man, possibly the best teacher I ever had.

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