Born in Sunderland, in 1870, William Kirkbride Blacklock was the second son of William Blacklock, a painter, and his wife Eleanor Kirkbride, who were married at Sunderland. In the 1881 Census, William was an 8-year-old living at 5 Hudson’s Buildings, Bishop Wearmouth, Sunderland with his parents and his older brother Robert, all born in Sunderland. His father died in 1883, and in 1891 young William was 18, working as a pawnbroker and living at 10 Corporation Road, Rickersgate, Carlisle, his mother by now having remarried.
William had artistic ambitions, and in 1898 moved to London to study at the Royal College of Art, winning the Queen's Prize for Drawing, and going on to become a painter in oils and watercolour. A number of paintings by him of Venice dated 1901 would suggest that he spent some time living in Europe. In 1902 he attended Edinburgh School of Art for several years, during which time he was using the forename 'Kay'. An obituary indicates that he became Head Master of the Edinburgh Academy.
He married in Chelsea in 1909 [Nellie] Ellen Eliza RICHARDSON. He seems to have added ‘Kay’ as his middle name when he took up as an artist. Nellie, a painter in her own right who exhibited at the RA, was also his model for a series of paintings from 1910 to 1917. William probably also painted in Holland, as the subjects and titles of his paintings suggest, and his subject matter and style is akin to that of Elizabeth FORBES.
Blacklock was a prolific painter of genre scenes in an academic style, and had 17 works hung in the Royal Academy between 1897 and 1918.
In the 1911 Census Blacklock is listed as a 41 year old artist painter at 46 Gunter Grove, Chelsea with his wife, and a one year old daughter Eleanor Irene, who had been born in Chelsea. By 1912 they had moved to 'The Barn' Walberswick, where there was an active artists' community. In 1916 they were still living there. In 1921 their address was 152 Fosse Road, South Leicester, but they moved on to Liskeard, Cornwall.
It was probably in 1921 that they settled in Polperro, living at 'Stonehaven', at the bottom of Talland Hill. He painted extensively in both oils and watercolours in the village. Blacklock died in Polperro, Cornwall in 1924, aged only 54.
Painter of genre scenes and landscape in watercolour and oils
works and access
Access to work: Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Auction catalogues
The Old Bridge, Polperro; A Quayside, Polperro; On the Rocks, Polperro; The Harbour Mouth, Polperro (1923)
RA (1897-1918); Royal Institute of Water Colour Painters, Royal Scottish Academy
Birmingham Royal Society of Artists, Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Liverpool Walker Art Gallery, London Salon, Manchester City Art Gallery, the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colour, Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters from 1897-1921, from Sunderland in 1897, London 1898 and 1909, from Edinburgh School of Art 1902, Walberswick, Suffolk 1912, St. Ives, Huntingdonshire 1918 and Leicester in 1919.
misc further info
New file: WCAA
Referred by B Flannagan (Huntingdon) 2011, with thanks. Information updated by Tony Copsey of www.suffolkpainters.co.uk in Feb 2013.
Tovey, David (2021) Polperro - Cornwall's Forgotten Art Centre - Volume Two - Post-1920, Wilson Books