Our chairman Bryan Crawford opened the meeting and after reminding us that the annual lunch is to be at the Mizen Head on Wednesday, October 3, asked the secretary for apologies and then wished members with birthdays in the next month all the best.

Reports from our secretary and our treasurer brought forward the usual confirmation that all is well in their areas of responsibility.

Sadly, it was then reported that one of our honorary members, Alan Buck, had died and a minutes silence was held in remembrance.

Our secretary then introduced our speaker, Dr Stuart Walton to give a talk entitled “The Other Stephenson.”

To the surprise of many of his audience Dr Walton told us that “The Other Stephenson” was not a George or a Robert, but a John Cecil who was a pioneer of modernism and one of Britain’s most accomplished abstract artists John Cecil Stephenson was born in Bishop Auckland, educated at James1 School and then the Leeds School of Art. Subsequently he was at the Royal College of Art and The Slade.

During the First World War he returned to Durham and worked in munitions. Afterwards he moved to Hampstead in London where his neighbours included Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Walter Sickert and many others.

He always maintained artistic links with Durham and from 1922 to 1955 was Head of Art teaching at the Northern Polytechnic.

He died in London in 1965 aged 76 after a series of strokes.

After an extensive and very interesting question and answer session the vote of thanks was given by Ian Wilkinson for an erudite and fascinating appreciation of one of the north’s unsung heroes.