Leamington artist & photographer James Edward Duggins was born on 27th March, 1881, the son of a Cubbington watchmaker. He studied under Algernon Talmage with the Newlyn School. In St Ives, Duggins became friends with John Anthony Park whose marine pictures were a big source of inspiration to him. He met Edward Stott and Sir George Clausen who had a profound influence on Duggins’ pastel work. He also met Sir John Alfred Arnesby Brown whose rustic images of cattle and leafy landscapes influenced his composition and technique.
James Duggins exhibited at a number of galleries including the Paris Salon (1927), the Royal Academy, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Coventry. The Royal Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum holds eleven of his works. In 1906, after two years in Cornwall, he established a successful photographic business, The Grove Studio, 23 Regent Grove, Leamington (now numbered 36/37). A number of mayoral portraits photographed by Duggins hang to this day in the Town Hall. James Duggins taught at The Boys’ College, Binswood Avenue, and the Art School,in Leamington. He continued painting in the countryside of Warwickshire and the Cotswolds, which was his greatest love, until the age of 67. He then devoted his time to small pencil sketches as he worked alongside his son David in the photographic business.
He illustrated two books: ‘Sweet Arden’ (1906) by George Morley, also ‘Unknown Warwickshire’ (1924) by Mary Dormer Harris. He died on 23rd December 1968 and was laid to rest in the Churchyard at St Mary Magdalene, Lillington, where he had been a member of the choir for many years. His headstone can be seen there today, inscribed “A Warwickshire Artist.”
Helen Cunliffe, Autumn 2012 (Photographs from a private collection, reproduced with permission)