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Sunday, 18 March 2012

Artist Malcolm Root

In previous posts I have described the work of famous railway artists such as Don Breckon, John Austin and Barry Freeman which has been used by jigsaw manufacturers. In this post, 18th March 2012, I will reproduce the format with respect to another famous railway artist, Malcolm Root. 

A son of Colchester, born in 1950, Malcolm Root has since lived in Halstead, Essex. He has put Halstead on the map to people outside the south east through his painting and subsequent 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, Steam Train at Halstead, manufactured by King.
When he was still at secondary school Malcolm achieved second place in a National Art Competition sponsored by Brooke Bond and at sixteen years of age left school to pursue a career in the printing trade. He continued to paint however, watercolours at first, oils later. After much self-examination and reflection, he decided in 1981 to become a full time artist. Commissions followed at regular intervals, particularly from his friends, but also assisted by several small exhibitions.
Malcolm's greatest interest is in 20thcentury transport and its impact on ordinary people.The leisurely way that people travelled before the car became the dominant mode of travel  is of particular interest to him and is mirrored in many of his paintings. His skill as a top railway artist has benefited from fond memories of steam train travel in the late 1950’s and 1960’s when the steam age was undergoing many changes, and ultimately, ended. As a result of his mastery of his trade he was elected a Full Member of the Guild of Railway Artists (GRA) in 1983 and had pictures hung in GRA exhibitions. Subsequently he has had four books of his paintings published  including two of his railway paintings - The Railway Paintings of Malcolm Root (1996), and Malcolm Root’s Railway Paintings (2004). In 2010 he was awarded the distinction of Fellow of the Guild of Railway Artists.
Many Malcolm Root paintings have been reproduced as jigsaw puzzles by King, Wentworth and Waddington/Hasbro. Wentworth has replicated at least 19 of his paintings. He is a master at recreating the power and majesty of steam railways on canvas and generating a nostalgic ambience that appeals to people who can instantly recall such indelible images.  Following are pictures of two such jigsaw puzzles.


The sea wall at Dawlish has always been popular with artists and Malcolm’s painting, subsequently reproduced as a 500-piece jigsaw by King, titled Following the Train, shows a GWR ‘King’ class 4-6-0, No. 6000 King George V, hauling chocolate and cream liveried passenger stock in the popular location. The famous bell on the locomotive is clearly shown. A family party complete with a baby in a large, 1950’s style pram, follows the train for a short distance.

The second picture also shows a King jigsaw but of 1000 pieces, titled Steamtrains. It is a montage of eight of Malcolm's paintings expertly blended together to make a superb jigsaw puzzle. They include representatives from each of the four railway companies formed in 1922/23.