Born in 1933 and educated at Brighton Grammar School and Brighton College of Art (1949-1954), the artist and teacher David Chapman played an important role in the development of several aspects of the School of Art. After a variety of teaching jobs in Jersey and London, Kingston and Reigate, in the late 1960s David worked with dancers in the Chelsea School of Physical Education, developing his interest in the cross-fertilisation of the arts. In 1972 he joined the Faculty of Art and Design at Brighton Polytechnic and taught drawing on the new BA (Hons) degree in Visual and Performing Arts. He also worked on the writing of the dance component of this degree and tutored in all years concerned with relationships between the arts.

Studio picture of a crowded space with large landscape on central easel and French windowsThroughout the 1980s, until his retirement from the University in 1991, David Chapman was Head of Foundation Studies. David Cooper, a long-standing Senior Gallery Technician in the department, and who worked a great deal with David, recalls him as ‘a lovely, really kind man and a superb member of the faculty, always so enthusiastic and encouraging to the students, and always a complete pleasure to work with’.

During his time at Brighton, David showed his own work extensively, including an exhibition at the Wren Gallery, London, the Royal Academy and the Royal College of Art, London, and two shows at the faculty’s own gallery: the 1988 Marking time retrospective, which he shared with colleague Dr Keith Clements (with whom he had studied at the Brighton College of Art) and a further joint show, the 1993 Fragments, with the internationally known weaver and curator Lesley Miller.

Abstract image with black vertical lines over ink wash

David Chapman, Untitled July 1995

Following his retirement from the university, David moved to the South of France, near Nîmes. Here, together with his wife Patricia Gilham, he ran a successful painting and drawing school for many years, while also continuing to develop his own strongly landscape-oriented, musically-inflected and always freshly-conceived work. The magnificent French terrain did much to stimulate his art, which was received very positively in the region. He had many shows in France, including major exhibitions in Savignargues and Monoblet. The last-named took place in June 2008, just months before David finally succumbed to the cancer he had fought, with both fortitude and much gracious humour, for several years.

Mike Tucker, 2009