King’s Cross Studio 1995 Photograph by John Millar
John Emmanuel Roberts
1946 Born March 18th, in Neath, South Wales.
1953 Orphaned, losing first his father, then within the year, his mother.
1954 Brought up by his Aunt Florence in Port Talbot, South Wales, an industrial town where his grand father, an ex-coal miner, was now manager of the steel works.
1964-68 Studied Fine Art at Gloucestershire College of Art, Cheltenham. Diploma in Art and Design-Sculpture. 1969 Awarded a place at the Royal Academy Schools to study sculpture with Willi Soukop, but decided
against pursuing this.
1969-76 South Wales, working as a labourer, chiefly on the railways, and in the steel industry.
1976-78 Studied Carving and Restoration at the City and Guilds of London Art School, under Arthur Ayres. Certificate in Carving and Gilding.
1979-81 Full time stonecarver, Westminster Abbey.
1980-96 Exhibited regularly at Art in Action, Oxfordshire
1981-2002 Teaching stone and wood carving part-time, at the City and Guilds of London Art School.
1984 Set up studio beneath a railway arch behind King’s Cross Station, where he would work for the next 12 years. His life now divided between part-time teaching, freelance restoration carving, (mostly ecclesiastical), some new carving commissions, and wherever possible, continuing his exploration of sculptural ideas, mostly in stone. Living in Putney.
1987 Commissioned to carve figure of St. Bartholomew, Failand Church, near Bristol.
1988 Blackheath Gallery - sculpture and drawings, Group Show. Bezzaliel Gallery, Belgravia-sculpture group show.
1989 Casson Gallery, Eastbourne, solo exhibition.
Commissioned to carve angel for Lincoln Cathedral, based on and replacing the 13th century original, in the local limestone.
First Summer holiday in Cornwall with Silvia, and the beginning of their life together.
1991 Commissioned by John Bysouth Ltd., to carve the tympanum detail of a pediment at Woburn Abbey in Portland stone to replace original (32ftx7ft). Awarded 1st prizes by Stone Federation and Royal Institute of British Architects.
1992 Exhibits at the Shurini Gallery, St. James, London. (Group show.)
1992-96 Lincoln Cathedral. Carving a series of panels in the local limestone to replace the eroded Romanesque originals on the west front.
1993 Visits Portland, Dorset. Begins association with the Portland Sculpture Trust.
1994 Exhibits at Sladmore Gallery. London. ‘Sculptors Drawings’- work by members of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.
Shad Thames Gallery. “The Art of Embellishment”. Sculpture in group show, organised by the City and Guilds of London Art School.
Elected Associate member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.
1995 Exhibits at the Royal Academy Summer Show. 1996 Sets up Studio New Cross Gate, London.
1998 Carved three life size limestone figures of Twentieth Century Martyrs, part of a series of ten new works installed on the west front of Westminster Abbey.
1999 ‘Angel on the Green’, 9ft bronze angel, ( which he first carved in plaster). Commissioned by Groveworld for their new development in Islington, as the focal point of their landscaped garden. (One of the blocks of flats on Upper Street is named ‘Roberts House’ after John!)
Carves a small marble Pieta for Coleorton Church, Leicestershire.
Exhibits two heads, including his portrait of Samuel Beckett, with the Society of Portrait Sculptors. The Gallery, Cork Street.
2000 Commissioned by the Crowood Press to write a book on stone carving.
Exhibits at 1st Annual Summer Show of Royal Society of British Sculptors. South Kensington London. Exhibits sculpture at Art Parks, Sausmarez Manor, Guernsey, (Group Show).
2000/2001 Portland Sculpture Trust Residency, Portland, Dorset.
Head of Christ in Portland stone is exhibited with the Society of Portrait Sculptors.
2002 Sands Project: commissioned to carve twice life size sculpture of baby in hand for Sheen Cemetery, Richmond.
Carving life size bust of Silvia, Portland stone; small female nude, marble. Writing chapters for his book on stonecarving.
July - becomes ill, continues to work daily.
September. Diagnosed with cancer. Leaves London for Sussex.
November 1st. Dies peacefully in the cottage in Sussex.