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Family hope to honour Highbury artist’s wish for exhibition

Don Dewar dreamed of displaying pieces to public at his home before the pandemic hit

02 April, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

Don Dewar, who moved to Islington in the 1960s as a ‘penniless hippy’, spent his life creating paintings, pottery and woodcarvings

FRIENDS and neighbours are mourning an artist who has died suddenly from a heart attack while waiting to put on an exhibition of his works.

Donald Robertson Dewar, 80, known as Don to friends and family, wanted to show off the artwork in his home in Highbury before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. His family are now hoping to honour his wishes once the coronavirus restrictions are relaxed.

Angie Bull, Don’s daughter, said: “He moved to London as a penniless hippy who soon joined a group of free-thinking Islington artists and creatives 60s style.”

Don was born in Edinburgh and moved to Islington in the 1960s.

He lived in Lady Somerset Road in Camden with a community of artist friends – they referred to their home as the White House.

Inspired by Picasso, Don spent his life creating paintings, pottery and woodcarvings. He even carved the wooden doors in his house in Bride Street.

As a child, Don was always painting and when he was 16, he featured in the local paper in Edinburgh after he won an award for his artwork.

Ten years ago, he had an exhibition in Holloway Road where a number of his paintings were sold.

He married his wife Doreen, who died two years ago, in 1965 in ­Liverpool Road.

Angie said: “Before the lockdown he had a drumming group and they used to come around to the house and they were keen to get an exhibition for him. When my mum died he was a shadow of his former self but his artwork motivated him again.

“People say when they walk in the house the first thing that hits their eyes are the plates he made. He loved abstract art and would always go to exhibitions.”

Don loved to spend time in the great outdoors and would regularly take the family on outings to Kew Gardens and Richmond Park for picnics and walking.

Outside of London, Don enjoyed holidays to Wales. Angie remembered him washing himself in the stream outside.

He worked as a play leader at the Fairfield Play Centre in Camden. He loved to help young people create artworks including a sculpture of a dragon and a painting of a lion.

He later went on to become a pottery teacher at Bolt Court, Holborn. His daughter Sasha works as a potter.

Don died on February 28. The funeral was held on Tuesday.

He leaves behind his son, Ian, who is disabled. Don was his main carer. He also leaves daughters Jenny, Sasha and Angie and five grandchildren.

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