Loading tweet...

Shiplake College News

OV David John (1928-2023)
Old Viking Society

Born: 25 July 1928 - Died: 26 August 2023
Teacher of Art, Shiplake College 1969-1978

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of former staff member, David John, an esteemed sculptor, designer, and dedicated teacher, on 26 August 2023.

David John, born in Port au Prince, Haiti, made his mark on the world through his profound contributions to the realms of art and education.  

During his time at Shiplake College, Mr John left an indelible mark, starting with his appointment in 1969, which swiftly transitioned from a part-time role to a full-time commitment in 1972. His passion for art was evident in the numerous projects he undertook and the countless students he inspired. 

Throughout the years, he contributed significantly to the College's artistic endeavours, including the set designs for various dramatic productions such as The Kitchen, Antigone, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, and the sequel which he also scripted and produced himself, Los Conquistadores. Additionally, he played an instrumental role in the establishment and development of the art department, which saw the introduction of woodcarving, to accompany pottery, under his guidance. 

David John's artistic impact extended beyond the confines of the College, as evidenced by his prolific body of work, which included over 600 commissions in stone, wood, bronze, and fiberglass. His creations adorned numerous churches across the United Kingdom, including prominent installations at Winchester and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedrals and around the world in Harare Cathedral, Zimbabwe and English College, Rome. 

His passion for art was matched only by his dedication to education. Mr John's ability to inspire and nurture the creative spirit of the students at Shiplake College was infectious. His impact went beyond the teaching of artistic techniques; he instilled in his students a love for the arts that transcended the classroom.  

His past pupil and friend Chris Payne (OV 76W) reinforced this: “I held David in such high esteem in my life, for he encouraged me no end in all I did especially in art, design and photography”. Chris went on to follow a career in the arts, culminating in becoming a Lighting Documentary Cameraman and Video Producer before he retired in 2016.  

Despite his immense contributions, Mr John made the difficult decision to step down from his role, recognising that the demands of his burgeoning career in sculpture and the needs of the students required his undivided attention. 

David was a gentle and compassionate man, active in the campaign for Nuclear Disarmament as well as a Parish and District Councillor for Woodley and Wokingham. He was also an active member of the Labour Party. His wife Marianne sadly died in 2018 and he is survived by their children, Clare, Helen, Rachel and Sarah, 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Another son, Matthew died in 2000.  

David John's memory will live on through his masterful works and the profound influence he had on the countless individuals fortunate enough to have known him. His dedication to the arts and unwavering commitment to nurturing young artistic minds will continue to inspire generations to come. He will be deeply missed by all those who had the privilege of knowing him.