RON SIMS 1944 – 2014

Ron Sims was born in 1944 in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex.  He had drawn and painted from early childhood, but after school he briefly joined British Rail working in a ticket office and then in accounts at Stratford, and he was also apprenticed as a boat builder. But the urge to be an artist was too strong.

“The Stratford job was so appalling that I was now desperate to attend an Art College,” he told an interviewer for the catalogue of his exhibition at The Minories, Colchester, much later in life.

He applied for and gained a place at Colchester School of Art, and two years on a foundation course there was followed by a two-year course leading to a National Diploma in Design (NDD) (1961-1965). He and Michael Smee, another Essex artist, won some interesting early commissions together.  Sims, encouraged by Antony Atkinson, who at the time was Head of Colchester School of Art, then went on a one-year postgraduate course (1965-1966) at Manchester College of art, followed by a three-year postgraduate course at the Royal Academy Schools in London (1967-1970) where he was taught by well-known artists such as Peter Blake, Edoardo Paolozzi, Edward Bawden, Humphrey Spender, John Nash and William Scott.  There Sims explored Pop Art, as well as Op Art and Colour Field painting, and began to develop his own highly idiosyncratic style, creating graphic works with apparently simple and hard-edged shapes.

His subjects are mainly of humans or animals pared down to their essentials, and often have a humorous aspect. The sculptural and architectural approach in his work relates to Le Corbusier’s views that the world is made from cubes, cylinders, cones, spheres and pyramids. He particularly admired the work of the Belgian cubist and sculptor, Georges Vantongerloo (1886-1965), who was also appreciated by Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson.  Acrylics enabled him to overpaint and alter his works, and he also experimented with digital photo etching and screen printing.

In 1970 he obtained a Teaching Fellowship at Gloucester College of Art and then for more than 40 years Sims had a very active and varied artistic career, including teaching at the Plume School in Maldon. He was a painter, printmaker, sculptor, teacher and writer. After his retirement he taught printmaking and sculpture in various adult education centres and at print workshops, including one at sculptor and painter, John Doubleday’s studio in Great Totham, Essex. He exhibited widely including in East Anglia and also in London at the Mall Gallery and regularly at the Royal Academy and wrote for magazines and was involved with film and radio.

He was an active member of the Printmakers’ Council, the Art Workers Guild, Gainsborough’s House Print Workshop and the Royal Academy Schools’ Alumni council.  He was elected President of Colchester Art Society in 2013.

Further reading:

Visual Genetics, Human and Animal – Catalogue of exhibition at The Minories, Colchester, 2013, which includes interviews with Ron Sims.

Return to the Coggeshall Artists Page

With grateful thanks to Wendy Sims for allowing the use of her late husband’s paintings here
and for the loan of the original paintings on view in the museum.
If you are interested in buying any of Ron’s work get in touch with us using the ‘Contact’ tab above.