The second son of a Methodist minister, David was educated at Kingswood School in Bath and, after an extended visit to Italy where he sold his first drawings, Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge. He was apprenticed as a (block) printmaker to artist Graham Clarke and learned to etch at Falmouth School of Art under Bryan Ingham. Whilst still a student he married Linda Exall. They have two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren. He practised as an architect in Worcester for eight years, then, in partnership with Michael Westby, another architect, David and Linda opened a contemporary fine art gallery, “framed”, in a lovely, mid-fifteenth century building in Friar Street, Worcester. Upon Michael’s retirement in 2000 the gallery became “Birties of Worcester”. After a third of a century, in June 2013 the gallery closed so that Linda might retire.
Commissions have included brochures for businesses and practices, record sleeves, display panels and books. Since his first exhibition (The Room gallery, Greenwich, 1970) David’s work has appeared in many public and private galleries and with societies such as the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour and the Society of Architect-Artists, of which he was a Fellow. He has undertaken commissions for many distinguished clients and his watercolours have been reproduced as cards (Lance Ranson), prints (Rosensteil’s) and calendars, (Bemrose UK and, more recently, Rose of Colchester). Birties of Worcester was first established to manage David’s own publications, cards and reproduction prints. These have proved very popular, have attracted an international following and have increased awareness of his original work.
Commissions have included brochures for businesses and practices, record sleeves, display panels and books. The Spirit of Worcestershire (Arrow Valley 2001) featured over thirty of David’s watercolour paintings. For Catherine Gordon’s book, Croome, A Creation of Genius (Scala 2017), he produced a series of architectural watercolours. He has continued to work with clients such as the National Trust, developing his depictions of historic architecture and landscape. An Honorary Fellow of the University of Worcester, David’s previous interests have included the Elgar Birthplace Trust (house committee), Swan Theatre Worcester Ltd (board), Abbeyfield Worcester Ltd. (trustee), Headway Worcester (president), St John’s Bell Tower Appeal (patron), Pershore Arts Association (patron) and Worcester Snoezelen Project (trustee). He is president of Worcester Civic Society and an energetic, veteran member of Worcester Rowing Club.
David Birtwhistle’s work is to be found in one royal and many public and private collections throughout the world.
Birties of Worcester
David Birtwhistle and Michael Westby had been in architectural practice together for eight years before they established their own contemporary Fine Art gallery, ‘Framed’, renovating a lovely, if dilapidated, 15th Century, half-timbered building in Friar St, Worcester, as a venue to exhibit their own work and that of many other artists. Wives, Linda and Bridget, soon joined them, forming their own company ‘Bee Folios’, specialising in bespoke framing and original (hand produced) prints.
Linda, a teacher trained at Homerton College, Cambridge, taught children in London, Cambridge and Worcester before becoming the first female computer programmer for Kays mail order business. From the time of Michael and Bridget’s retirement to Devon in 2000 she managed the Friar Street gallery together with the successful, print-publishing business, all as “Birties of Worcester”.
Following Linda’s partial retirement in 2013, the gallery closed down. Today “Birties of Worcester” is run from Belmont House, a fine example of four-square, late-Georgian architecture, restored from a ruinous condition by the Birtwhistles over fifty years.