TRIBUTES have been paid to a talented artist after his death aged 93.

Birtley Aris was born in Sunderland to parents Dorothy and Frederick. He attended Chester Road and West Park Central schools before going on to study at the Sunderland College of Art and Craft. During World War II, he was a Bevin Boy coalminer at Silksworth Colliery.

He then went on to work at stained glass studios in Newcastle, London and Brighton, before a stint in the civil service in London, where he met wife Jean Robbins, who died in 2019. Birtley and Jean married in 1955 and in 1960, welcomed daughter Jo.

The family later moved to his native North-East, where Birtley taught art at Prudhoe Community High School from 1964. He painted full time from 1982.

Exhibiting widely across the region and beyond, Birtley’s work was shown many a time locally at Hexham’s Queens Hall Arts Centre, including his watercolours of Durham Cathedral in 1990, ‘Storyville’ with Linda France in 1997, and more recently, the launches of several Enchiridion books with Peter Bennet, Gerry Wardle and Sean O’Brien.

For the 1992 Abbey Festival exhibition, he spent a year drawing in Hexham Abbey, focussing on the more remote areas of the building, high up in the Trifolium and clerestory, as well as recording events.

His first major collaboration with poet Linda France, ‘Acknowledged Land’, was shown at Hexham’s twin town Metzingen in 1999, as was ‘Church Outing’ with Sue Dunne, Sue Malkin, Brian Waters and Margo Waters in 2002.

And more recently, 2020 saw three collaborative book projects for the artist.

‘February’, with daughter Jo, was launched with an exhibition of his drawings at Lumicube studios just before the first lockdown.

Michael Chaplin and he also published ‘Train of Thought’, with all proceeds donated to Newcastle West End Food Bank, while ‘Dwelling Place’ with Linda France, about Allen Banks, came out late last year and would be his last published work.

‘Wild and Another Wild’ (2004/14), with Linda France, was a show of Birtley’s love and interest for wild places and plants and last summer, he made a Garden Book.

The former president of Hexham Art Club, member of Hexham Amnesty International and founder member of Tynedale Artists Network leaves a lasting visual legacy.