About Lionel Bulmer

Born at Wandsworth, London on 12 June 1919, third and youngest child of Francis Holles Bulmer, an architect, and his wife Annie Cecilia née Shelley, who married at Lambeth in 1905. At the age of 17 he went to Clapham Art School for two years before conscription into the army on the outbreak of World War Two but continued his painting in his free time. On being demobilised he returned to his artistic career and was accepted by a Royal College of Art, still relocated at Ambleside in the Lake District. Among his classmates was Margaret Green [q.v.] and soon they became inseparable, working side by side on sketching trips and on paintings back in the college studio, they set the pattern of shared contentment that would last, although they did not marry until 1991, until Lionel’s death. The Royal College returned to Exhibition Road in a down-at-heel and shell-shocked Kensington when tuition by the likes of Ruskin Spear, Carel Weight and Charles Mahoney was enlightening, as was the freedom to wander in the nearby Victoria & Albert Museum. They set to work in Chelsea, though one of Margaret’s many student prizes, a £160 travelling scholarship, funded almost a year of frugal travel through France and Ireland. To support their painting, the partners accepted part-time teaching posts in art schools, Lionel at Kingston and Margaret, firstly at Walthamstow and then at the Royal Academy Schools. In the late 1950’s they found a wreck of a house in a wilderness in West Suffolk which cost £850. Carving out a rather noble building dating from the Middle Ages, and with fastidious furnishings, they then bulldozed the jungle to plant a French-style paradise of flower, fruit and vegetable beds, which took them a long way towards self-sufficiency and neither ever tired of painting. They adored the beach at Aldeburgh, with the two lookout towers and the tram-like tracks for hauling fishing boats up and down the shingle. But on discovering Walberswick and Southwold they were hooked, with the resulting flood of canvases suggesting that the two figures were fixtures on the beach and beside the harbour over every high summer between 1960 and 1990. Lionel died at Onehouse, near Stowmarket in 1991. Bulmer exhibited at the summer exhibition of the Royal Academy of Art, London from 1947, Leicester Galleries from 1948 as well as the Trafford Gallery, New English Art Club, Royal Watercolour Society where he was an associate member, New Art Centre on Sloane Street and Roland Browse & Delbanco.

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