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John Falconar Slater

He was often seen with his easel lashed to a rock

J F Slater, artist and family man, lived in Cullercoats for many years (in St Oswin’s Avenue).  He was a familiar figure in the village and still remembered with affection. John Falconar was born at Rye Hill, Newcastle upon Tyne in 1857.  His father, Thomas, was a corn merchant and sent him to be educated at the Sandyford Academy.  On leaving the Academy John Falconar worked as a clerk and book-keeper in his father’s mill.

At the age of 20 he emigrated and after various adventures returned to England to see his family.  Once home he took up his former hobby of drawing and decided to become an artist.  In 1889, his picture known as ‘The Boat Landing’ was accepted by the Royal Academy.  From then on, he exhibited regularly at Burlington House and his work was accepted by the Royal Scottish Academy, the Walker Art Gallery and others.

The sea was one of his favourite subjects.  His oil skin-clad figure was a familiar sight on the coast.  He was often seen with his easel lashed to a rock and weighted down with large stones to withstand the fury of a north-easterly gale.  In appearance, apart from his moustache and Vandyke beard, John Falconar was unlike the popular conception of an artist.  He was short, broad and immensely strong, his hands being square and powerful.  Not for him the velvet jacket and flowing tie: he wore Harris tweeds and broad-brimmed ‘wideawake’ hats.

John Falconar loved Cullercoats and lived in the village for 40 years.  As a committed Christian, he attended at the Fishermen’s Mission and sometimes took the service in his capacity as a lay preacher.

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