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Rhodes exhibition celebrates Stortford surgeon who started painting in retirement


By Paul Winspear


Painting by Geoffrey Ensor for Bishops Stortford Art Society spread in April 11
Painting by Geoffrey Ensor for Bishops Stortford Art Society spread in April 11

An art exhibition at Rhodes this week features works by a Bishop's Stortford artist who only took up painting in retirement.

Dr Geoffrey Ensor of Bishops Stortford Art Society
Dr Geoffrey Ensor of Bishops Stortford Art Society

The display of paintings by Dr Geoffrey Ensor, who died in February aged 97, runs until Monday (April 9). The day after, there will be a service of thanksgiving.

The exhibition is organised by Bishop’s Stortford Art Society, of which Geoffrey was a member for more than 20 years.

He lived in Stortford from just after the Second World War until the end of last year. He died at Mountfitchet House care home in Stansted.

He met his future wife, Mary Johnson, who was also a doctor, when they were both appointed to Haymeads Hospital (now Herts & Essex Community Hospital).

Painting by Geoffrey Ensor for Bishops Stortford Art Society spread in April 11
Painting by Geoffrey Ensor for Bishops Stortford Art Society spread in April 11

Geoffrey was an ophthalmic surgeon and held most of his appointments at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield and in Harlow.

Two years before he retired completely in 1993, Mary bought him a calligraphy set, recognising he might become bored during the winter months without the garden to attend to, cricket to watch or golf to play.

This proved a success as Geoffrey attended classes and it was but a short step from calligraphy to drawing and painting.

Geoffrey attended art classes and developed a colourful style of depicting landscapes. Portraits did not interest him as an artist, but some of his paintings did include people.

Painting by Geoffrey Ensor for Bishops Stortford Art Society spread in April 11
Painting by Geoffrey Ensor for Bishops Stortford Art Society spread in April 11

He was inspired by natural settings, pictures and photographs and then used them to develop his own style with the subject. His favourite mediums were pastels and pen and ink wash.

Geoffrey’s work was shown in a number of the Stortford art society’s exhibitions, and he also had his own exhibition of work at Bishop’s Stortford library in 2004.

Geoffrey’s son Christopher, who lives in the USA, said: “What is particularly interesting is that my father only took up painting when he was about to retire in his late 60s.

“His family hope this display of his work will encourage others to take up painting, especially in retirement when there is more time to enjoy hobbies. It’s never too late to become an artist!”

Painting by Geoffrey Ensor for Bishops Stortford Art Society spread in April 11
Painting by Geoffrey Ensor for Bishops Stortford Art Society spread in April 11

Geoffrey attended art sessions at the New Apton Centre in Stortford, going to lunch and art classes, run by John Bowles, at the centre every Monday up until a year ago when declining health made it too difficult.

The former Bishop’s Stortford U3A member was cremated on March 13 at Parndon Wood, Harlow, and the thanksgiving service on Tuesday (April 10) is being held at St Mary’s Church, Birchanger, led by the Rev Paul Wilkin. A celebration of Geoffrey’s life will follow straight after at Birchanger church hall.

The exhibition of paintings by Geoffrey Ensor at Rhodes Arts Complex is open Wednesday to Saturday (Apr 4-7) 10am-5pm, Sunday (Apr 8) 1.30pm-4pm and Monday (Apr 9) 10am-5pm. It is being held on the first floor in the upstairs gallery. Admission is free.



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