Percy Harland Fisher was born in 1867, the youngest of three sons. All the Fisher boys attended Dulwich College, a school at that time well known for its artistic connections; all three went on to become professional artists. His brothers, Melton and Horace, attended the Royal Academy schools where they both won gold medals and the prestigious travelling scholarship. They chose to tour the Continent, Melton settling in Venice where he married a Venetian and Horace settling in Capri, also marrying a local girl. Percy showed an early artistic talent, from the age of 17 he regularly exhibited at The Royal Academy. He followed his brothers to the Continent, spending time in Italy before settling in France where he met the artist Gwilt Jolley. In the summer of 1901 he and Jolley advertised in The Studio Magazine for an art class to be held in July at Monteuil sur Mer.
He returned to Britain in 1903 after suffering from repeated bouts of bronchitis. At that time Camberley, with its pine wood walks, was considered a healthy place to live for those with respiratory ailments. He took a studio in Plantation Row, Yorktown and developed a clientele from amongst the many army officers in the area. His pictures of children were particularly popular. Like many artists he also painted subjects of personal interest, for him it was the Romany families that lived on the local common. He also had a deep love of animals which often appeared in his more formal portraits.
Fisher continued to teach, running art classes during the summers. It was through one of these classes that he was introduced to Catherine Ethel Hudson, whom he married in 1911. They eventually settled in “Gorseland” on Woodland Road, although he kept his studio in Plantation Row. He was well known in the locality because he often recruited models for his private work from local schools. His wife was also fondly remembered, as she was often employed by Fisher to distract the young models with stories and games while they were sitting.
Percy Harland Fisher regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy and other important venues such as The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and The Royal Society of Artists, London. He experimented with a wide variety of media and during the 1920s and 1930s increasingly working in pastel and exhibited regularly at The Royal Pastel Society.
His brothers joined Percy in Camberley towards the end of their lives. Melton died here in 1939. These pictures show a rare insight into a local artist’s life and provide a quiet commentary on an almost forgotten suburban way of life that existed during his life time.
Text provided by Surrey Heath Museum.
Click here to view a gallery of Percy Harland Fisher’s work held at Surrey Heath Museum.
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