David Tindle is best known for the technical accomplishment of his work in egg tempera, emphasising the stillness and emptiness of interior spaces. However, he is a versatile artist and has made use of various media of painting and printmaking to depict a wide range of subjects. David Tindle was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, on 29 April 1932. He grew up largely in Coventry and, while still in his early teens, studied art for six months at the Lanchester College of Technology (1945-46). He then took a job at a local commercial art studio. Two years later, at the age of 16, he began to work with the theatrical scene painter, Edward Delaney, initially for a two-week stint at a theatre in Birmingham.
In August 1951, David Tindle moved to London, finding work with a commercial artist in Wardour Street, Soho, and then again with Edward Delaney, at his scenic studio in Princes Place, Holland Park.
He engaged with many aspects of the art world, reading books and attending exhibitions, and began to admire the work of John Minton, in particular. When he held his first solo show, close to his home, at the Archer Gallery, Westbourne Grove, in 1952, he telephoned Minton to invite him to see it. Minton visited the show, and bought a self-portrait, so instigating a friendship. Tindle soon came to know a number of other significant painters working in London at the time, including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and John Craxton. Following a second exhibition at the Archer Gallery in 1953, he joined The Piccadilly Gallery, in Cork Street, and showed there for three decades. He also began to contribute work to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. His first retrospective was held at the Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry, in 1957.
If the post-war aspect of London was the focus of his earliest paintings, Tindle expanded his repertoire during the mid 1950s. He worked in Wantage, Oxfordshire, producing murals for John Betjeman’s tearoom, King Alfred’s Kitchen, and also in the fishing ports of Hastings, in Sussex, and Arbroath, in Scotland. At the end of the decade, he began to teach at Hornsey College of Art and the Byam Shaw School of Art. By this time, he had moved close to abstraction, in spare, low-toned but thickly painted landscape oils, such as those of Brighton. When he lived in Suffolk in the mid 1960s, he continued this approach, but heightened the palette. In 1962, reflecting the increasing recognition of his talents, he was awarded the Critic’s Prize by the British section of the International Association of Art Critics.
Even before his move to a converted chapel in East Haddon, Northamptonshire, in 1969, David Tindle had begun to alter his method, by moving ‘gradually towards a crisper articulation of form’, which he achieved with ‘a more restrained handling’ (Ian Massey, 2016, page 8). About the time that Northampton Museum and Art Gallery mounted a retrospective, in 1972, he refined this further by turning to the medium of egg tempera. The resulting images epitomised stillness, whether they were portraits or a unique combination of landscape, interior and still life.
From 1972, David Tindle began to teach at the Royal College of Art (and was elected an Associate in 1973, a Fellow in 1981 and an Honorary Fellow in 1984). In 1973, he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy (becoming a full Royal Academician in 1979). While continuing to exhibit at The Piccadilly Gallery and the RA (winning the Johnson Wax Award for the Best Painting in 1983), he also showed internationally, and especially with Galerie XX, Hamburg (in the years 1974, 1977, 1980 and 1985). Commissions in this period included a set of three mural decorations for the Open University, Milton Keynes (1977-78).
During the 1980s, David Tindle lived in Clipston, Leicestershire, and then, from 1986, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. As with the converted chapel at East Haddon, his homes, and especially their windows, were his regular subjects. In 1985, he became Ruskin Master and a Professional Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford; and also began to be represented by Fischer Fine Art, London. Commissions included a portrait of Sir Dirk Bogarde for the National Portrait Gallery (1986), and the stage design for a production of Tchaikovsky’s opera, Iolanta, for the Aldeburgh Festival (1988). He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1988 (though resigned in 1991), and an Honorary Member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in 1989.
Since 1990, David Tindle has lived mainly abroad, first for eight years in Brittany, and then subsequently in Tuscany. Since 1994, he has been represented by the Redfern Gallery. The latest retrospective of his work was held at Huddersfield Art Gallery from November 2016 to February 2017.
David Tindle has been married three times and has nine children.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Government Art Collection, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate; and Herbert Art Gallery & Museum and the Lakeland Arts Trust.
Further reading Ian Massey, David Tindle, Huddersfield Art Gallery, 2016