Jon Lys Turner’s The Visitors’ Book sheds light on one of the most significant post-war British art archives discovered in decades

How did you come to write The Visitor’s Book?

Jon Lys Turner, The Visitor's Book: In Francis Bacon's Shadow: The Lives of Richard Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller
Jon Lys Turner, The Visitor’s Book: In Francis Bacon’s Shadow: The Lives of Richard Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller

I was a co-beneficiary of the estates of the artists Richard ‘Dicky’ Chopping (1917-2008) and his partner Denis Wirth-Miller (1915-2010). I had been a close friend of both for thirty years having been taught by Dicky at the Royal College of Art.

After their deaths, on entering their discarded studios behind their estuary-side home in Wivenhoe, Essex, I was astounded to find pile upon pile of canvases, sketchbooks and correspondence.

A director of the Tate visited the studio and explained that these articles were important – maybe one of the most significant post-war British art archives to be discovered in decades and asked if I would put together the structure of a catalogue for a potential show. This soon grew beyond a catalogue. Representatives of the Estate of Francis Bacon suggested that, with so much unseen material, my project should become a book. (more…)