Ken Messer (1931 – 2018)

Dreaming Spires



30 x 38 cm

Signed lower left. Oxford’s skyline, including the Radcliffe Camera, the spire of University Church of St Mary the Virgin, and Magdalen Tower, is silhouetted against the grey sky of a winter day. The trees in the foreground are stark and black. Messer’s depiction of Oxford’s dreaming spires is an outstanding architectural record of the city’s – and University’s – most remarkable buildings.

The painter and draughtsman Ken Messer is closely related to Oxford and its architecture in several ways. Born in Newport, South Wales, he was educated at the City of Oxford High School for Boys in Oxford, and then spent six years working as an accountant in Oxford. He then joined British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) as a steward, flying internationally. Injury due to a car accident during the 1960s meant that he joined the design department of Pergamon Press in Oxford at the age of 33. Six years later, he was appointed to the position of studio manager, in charge of art and design.

In 1974, Messer left Pergamon Press to become a freelance graphic designer. He started painting more watercolours, becoming a full-time artist. During the 1980s, his ink drawings were regularly published in the Oxford Times. He has sometimes been called “The Oxford Artist” because of his large number of works depicting Oxford. He and his wife Dilys lived at first in Richmond upon Thames and then in Abingdon, just south of Oxford. Messer’s work has been shown at the Mall Galleries for the annual exhibitions of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours annual exhibitions.

Condition: excellent.

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