Obituary: Martin Pilcher

Martin Ralph Cecil Pilcher, painter, photographer, born Dusseldorf 6 January 1948, died Poole 22 July 1992.

MARTIN PILCHER - Pilcher of Poole, as he styled himself - was an unusual marine artist and photographer. He had recently started experimenting with painting under water.

He was born in Dusseldorf, the son of a major who served in postwar Germany. He was educated at Aiglon College in Switzerland and at Cirencester Agricultural College, then farmed for 15 years with his father in Hampshire, before deciding to became a full-time photographer. He experimented with infra-red film, using magenta and cyan as a medium. The results presented an exciting new dimension for the portrayal of the natural world.

A keen yachtsman and diver, he turned to marine and, later, underwater photography. He photographed boats on commission, both on the water and at Earl's Court Boat Show. His photography led to his painting. He started painting what he saw in his photographs. Bold, sometimes unreal colours captured cascading fragments of light. He was commissioned to paint boats and seascapes. From his house in Poole he had a good view of Brownsea Island. He was influenced also by Japanese art and culture. He visited Japan twice in the 1980s, and started learning Japanese.

Recently he began experimenting with underwater painting. He prepared wood panels, attached weights to them and lowered them into the water. Then he weighted oil paints, lowered them similarly and applied them under water. It was while undertaking such an exercise that he died; his diving partner, Susan Wilkes, nearly died herself in trying to save him.

Pilcher held several exhibitions in London and Poole, and a new exhibition of his work opened on Monday, in Henley-on-Thames. Outside his experiments in painting and photography, he was a keen countryman, devoted to shooting, pheasant, deer and - in Canada - moose.

(Photograph omitted)

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