BRADFORD has produced some remarkable artists over the years - many internationally renowned, with work in collections worldwide.

In the third book of his ‘Not Just Hockney’ series looking at past artists from the district, Colin Neville profiles a range of extraordinary men and women and the highs and lows of their lives. As with the other two books - Past Silsden Artists and Lesser Known Artists of the Bradford District, 1890-1997 - profits from sales will support community-run Silsden Town Hall.

Says Colin: “Some of the highs were very high indeed. Bradford-born etcher and sculptor May Tremel is now largely forgotten but in her heyday her prints were exhibited internationally alongside some of the finest British printmakers and artists. Dorothy Bradford gained respect for her sublime paintings of musicians and dancers.

“But the low fortunes of fate are recorded here too. There can be few things worse for an artist than to go blind, as was the case with Tom Butterfield. And there were those artists whose lives were ended brutally by war, or blighted by it.”

The First World War cut short the lives of two Keighley artists. Hugh Manning Spencer was born in 1890, his father a blacksmith. At Keighley Trade and Grammar School Hugh showed an aptitude for metal crafts and in 1911 he gained a scholarship to study metal work at the Royal College of Art in London, where his uncle, Silsden artist Augustus Spencer, was Principal. At the start of the war Hugh joined the 7th (Service) Battalion, East Kent Regiment and in 1917 became an officer. He married Doris in 1915 and their son was born in May, 1918, but Hugh didn’t live to see his child. In October 1917 he was shot dead on the first day of action at Passchendaele. An ‘unknown soldier’ was later identified as him and he is buried near Ypres.

Thomas Smith Shackleton was born in 1891, his father a coal merchant. His parents died when he and his sister were teenagers. Thomas went to Keighley Art College and in 1912 was accepted to study design at the Royal College, with the aim of being an art teacher. In 1914 he enlisted with 6th Battalion West Riding Regiment and fought at the Somme. He was killed on May 5 1917 by shellfire, attempting to capture Bullecort, and is bured at Ecoust Military cemetery.

It was a different war for George Frederick Demaine, born in Keighley in 1892 to parents who were staunch members of Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. George went to Keighley College of Art and gained a scholarship to study sculpture at the Royal College, joining the Christian Union and NCF: No-Conscription Fellowship. In 1916 he was called up and appeared before Chelsea Military Service Tribunal, claiming exemption on grounds of his religious beliefs and objection to war.

Says Colin: “He was one of 16,000 men in Britain who claimed exemption from military service in the 1914-18 war on grounds of conscientious objection. Few were granted full exemption and many accepted non-combatant roles. But George was an ‘Absolutist’, renouncing any work that assisted the war effort. He refused to comply with a notice to report for military training and on May 16, 1916 was arrested. He said that as a Christian he could take no part in warfare. He was convicted and taken to an army depot, where he disobeyed a military order, faced a court-martial and was sentenced to imprisonment in Lewes Prison, later Wormwood Scrubs.”

So began a cat-and-mouse cycle of court martials and imprisonment with hard labour; often breaking stones into gravel or stitching mailbags. Released in April 1919, George returned to the Royal College and became a sculptor and landscape artist, exhibiting at the Royal Academy and locally at Cartwright Hall.

Bingley-born Robert Lee studied at Bradford College of Art and in 1937 went to the Royal College. When the Second World War began he joined the Royal Artillery Signals and spent two years at a German prison camp at Freital, where he saw the Dresden bombing raids which killed an estimated 25,000 people. In Freital over 200 Germans, mostly women and children, were killed when allied bombs landed on housing.As a POW, Robert had to dig a communal grave and pack coffins in. The harrowing experience forever haunted him; in 2002 he told a journalist: “No amount of showers could wash away the smell, no amount of years can diminish the memories.”

Robert taught art at Heckmondwike Grammar School and from 1969-79 was Principal Lecturer in Visual Arts at Bingley College. Some of his artwork reflected the horrors of war. In the 1990s in his Harden studio he worked on lime wood sculpture An Angel for Dresden which he donated to the city. Some of his paintings are in Kirklees Museums and Galleries and private collections worldwide.

* The Highs - The Lows: Past Artists of the Bradford District is £7.50 at