John Verling (1943 - 2009)

John Verling was born in Portlaw, Co Waterford in 1943.
He studied architecture at the Crawford municipal School of Art in County Cork from 1961-1963. (The Royal Institute of British architects course at the Crawford was only a three-year duration; to continue studying one had to do the final years at a college in Britain.)

His teachers and coursework at the Crawford provided him with a variety of artistic experiences, not only in architectural drawing but also in ceramics printmaking and fine art. John Green, director of the architecture course, was a significant and inspiring influence. He kindled in John a lifelong love of buildings, that became evident in the subject matter underpinning John's signature style in his later years.

In 1963 John married his then girlfriend Noelle and moved to London to continue studying and to complete his architectural course. Noelle went to Hammersmith College of Art to study ceramics.

In the early 60's in London John shared a studio with fellow artists. This was when his individual artistic career began to evolve in a cosmopolitan atmosphere. It was in London that John Verling's artistic sensibility matured and that he became a great observer of life.

In 1970 John and Noelle moved back to Ireland and John worked for a period in a full-time architectural practice. While to continuing to work in architecture John & Noelle then set "Fergus Pottery" in Dripsey outside Cork initially in a rented facility and then moved to West Cork in 1971 where they established their own studio and pottery and in 1973 John gave up full-time architecture to become a graphic and ceramic artist. Noelle proceeded to generate a large collection of thrown works which went on sale commercially which John put the finishing touches to in decorating with a range of west cork symbolism and motifs.

John Verling

They sold his works directly to the public as well as supplying a number of retail outlets throughout the country.

In 1974 the Cork Craftsman's Guild was founded. John and Noelle are listed among its founders in a brief history of the guild.

In the 10 years of the Guild's existence it became the largest art and Craft co-operative in Europe with about 300 members from all over the country, supplying all manner of fine arts. John was also a member of the Society of Cork Potters.

John represented the guild on the Craft Council of Ireland for several years and he was among the most involved and productive members.

John was a prolific artist, as much as home with drawings and egg tempera paintings as in the workshop producing ceramics. His fascination with the built environment is evident in much of his work and became symbolic in his paintings.

John's contribution to the community in West Cork was enormous. Immediately on his arrival in West Cork he became involved in community affairs, initially to design a community centre in Ballydehob using his technical knowledge on a voluntary basis.

He continued to be involved in projects within the community on a voluntary basis which became more prolific in later years, with the design of the inshore rescue centre in Schull and a reordering of the altar at the Catholic parish church in Ballydehob. The goldfish hand drawn in the background of the altar and the depiction of the fish swimming against the shoal continues to evoke admiration from locals and visitors alike. He also designed the stained glass windows and etched the brass surround of the tabernacle

The Altar slab, composed of a vast monolith like the capstone of a dolmen, is a distinguished piece of sculpture and a tribute to his imaginative capacity.

His Art work can be seen in many collections in Ireland and abroad including: the Irish Law Society, Dublin; College of Surgeons, Dublin; Commerce Bank, Berlin; the Irish Embassy in Japan; Germany; Greece; and the AIB national collection.

John was unusual as an artist with respect to the volume and wide scope of his production. He worked in drawings, painting, prints, ceramics and book illustrations, whilst also teaching Art in Schull Community college in West Cork for over 14 years and maintaining his work in architecture.

He was one of the few rare artists working in the media of egg tempera during his time..

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