D-Day vet, 97, hosts exhibition of paintings after rekindling art love
2nd March 2019

D-Day hero, 97, who quit painting 10 years ago following death of beloved wife is set to showcase new work after meeting amateur artist care worker

  • Peter Gardner, 97, will put 15 new paintings on display in Shaftesbury, Dorset
  • Former mechanical engineer stopped painting after wife, Pat, died decade ago
  • Rekindled love of art after meeting artist Charlotte Dooley, 47, at Age Concern

A D-Day veteran who stopped painting ten years ago following the death of his beloved wife is set to display new artwork at an exhibition after meeting a care worker who was an amateur artist.

Peter Gardner, 97, will have 15 new paintings on display at an art gallery in Shaftesbury, north Dorset. 

The former soldier took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy and was also present at Operation Market Garden.

Following the conflict, he received a grant to train to be an art teacher in London’s East End, a job he carried out until his retirement 40 years ago. 

He stopped painting following the death of his wife Pat a decade ago but rekindled his passion after becoming friends with a care worker who is an aspiring artist.

D-Day veteran Peter Gardner is set to hold a special exhibition of his work. He became an art teacher after the war

He worked as an art teacher until his retirement, but gave up painting after the death of his wife Pat a decade ago. Pictured: a painting of the Gillingham and Shaftesbury agricultural show

The former soldier took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy and was also present at Operation Market Garden. Pictured: Mr Gardner in Oslo in June, 1945

Mr Gardner rekindled his passion after becoming friends with a care worker who is an aspiring artist

After having two cataracts removed from his eyes he was able to see clearly and paint as before, with impressive results.

The 15 paintings in the exhibition were all produced by the pensioner within the last 12 months.

Mr Gardner’s artwork, which can sell for up to £400 a piece, includes scenes of London, where he grew up, idyllic Dorset landscapes, and a fox hunt.


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He said: ‘I became an art teacher after the war until my retirement in 1979.

‘I moved from London to to Shaftesbury in 1983. In the past year, I had two cataracts removed and I can now continue painting as before.

‘I enjoy it and it comes naturally to me. Most of my work is of London scenes with some still life and a few paintings of religious subjects.

Fifteen of Mr Gardner’s new paintings will go on display at an art gallery in Shaftesbury, north Dorset

Mr Gardner, pictured in Palestine in the late 1940s, enlisted with the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers in 1942 at the age of 22 and was sent to Derby to train

Mr Gardner is putting on a joint exhibition with amateur artist Charlotte Dooley, 47, who befriended him at an Age Concern meeting in 2015

‘I hope to show examples of all these genres in the exhibition.’

Mr Gardner is putting on a joint exhibition with amateur artist Charlotte Dooley, 47, who befriended him at an Age Concern meeting in 2015.

She said: ‘When his wife Pat died about 10 years ago he completely lost the will to paint for a number of years but he has started painting again.

‘Peter’s paintings are fantastic and you would not believe he is 97 years old.’

He began painting as a 13 year old but was not able to carry out his passion during his war-time service.

Mr Gardner enlisted with the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers in 1942 at the age of 22 and was sent to Derby to train as a wireless mechanic.

Mr Gardner said: ‘I enjoy it and it comes naturally to me. Most of my work is of London scenes with some still life and a few paintings of religious subjects’

Last year he was awarded a Legion D’Honneur, France’s highest order of military merit, for helping to liberate France from the Nazis. Pictured: Palestine, late 1940s

Art expert Michael Liversidge said of Mr Gardner: ‘To be painting like this at his age is a rare achievement’

He was engaged in operations in Northern France and in Belgium where he assisted with the liberation of Brussels in September 1944.

Subsequently, he took part in the Battle of Nijmegen in Holland before returning to England in October of that year.

Last year he was awarded a Legion D’Honneur, France’s highest order of military merit, for helping to liberate France from the Nazis.

Art expert Michael Liversidge, Emeritus Dean, Faculty of Art, University of Bristol, said: ‘Peter paints English country life and small town encounters caught with a colourful palette and a nostalgic eye – his pictures remind us of an uncomplicated existence in times past.

‘To be painting like this at his age is a rare achievement.’

The exhibition takes place at Shaftesbury Arts Centre from March 6-12. 

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