Richard Franz Bayer (1901-1990) was a painter, illustrator, and teacher at Bradford Grammar School.
Richard was born in Vienna and studied art, advanced teaching methods and psychology in Austria. He taught in classes experimenting with art in primary education and worked with Professor F.Cizek, a pioneer in art education, and contributed to the International Journal of Psychology.
In the years leading to the start of WW2, he became politically active in Austria. His political newspaper cartoons led him into conflict with the right-wing government. He addressed ant-Nazi meetings, joined protest marches, and took charge of 4,000 young people, members of the Social Democratic youth movement. When Hitler annexed Austria, Richard lost his teaching job and faced arrest and imprisonment. His wife, Frances, and their daughter, Liza, had fled to England and Richard joined them only a month before war was declared with Britain in 1939.
He found work teaching at a school in Hertfordshire, but as this was in a Protected Area (security sensitive) he was detained and interned as a possible ‘dangerous alien’ at Huyton Camp, near Liverpool. Here, Richard turned his artistic skills to good use, designing satirical postcards about camp life. He produced over 70 cartoons, which were copied and resulted in over 5,000 postcards, used by the detainees for communication or as a record of their confinement.
After a few months, his loyalty to Britain established, Richard left Liverpool and made for London, where he worked as a sign-writer, including painting huge posters for the cinema industry, based around Wardour Street. However, he applied for teaching work and in 1941 took up a teaching post at Bradford Grammar School, as art master, where he stayed until 1966.
During this period David Hockney was a pupil and Richard became Hockney’s tutor, mentor and lifelong friend. In later life, Richard recalled he was able to write ‘Very Good’ on Hockney’s pre-GCE art report! He said of Hockney’s time at the school:
He was an excellent cartoonist, but he didn’t bother about other subjects. All he wanted to do was to study in the art group. But for his GCE examinations he buckled down and did quite well. (Bradford ‘Telegraph & Argus’, 21/01/1981.)
Richard and his family lived in the Bradford district, at Shipley, and in 1943 he became secretary of the International Centre in Bradford, a social club to help refugees assimilate into Yorkshire life.
He was a member of the Bradford Arts Club from 1943 to 1962 and was the founder member of the Shipley Arts Club. Richard and his family later moved to Menston, where he became a founder member of the Menston Arts Club, its first President, and later its Vice-Chairman and a honorary member
He painted in oils, gauche, watercolours and cryla and also worked in ceramics, scraperboard, lino-cutting and silhouette-cutting. He had been inspired to take up this latter skill after a meeting Lottie Reineiger, a creator of animated silhouette films. He said:
I took it up commercially at art shows … and it has proved very popular. They don’t take long – about two minutes. On one occasion I did silhouettes on the stage of the Bingley Playhouse.
Richard’s paintings were exhibited locally, including a solo show at Bradford Central Library, 1972. His scraperboard illustrations also featured in the Dalesman magazine (examples shown here).
An exhibition of the range of his artwork, including postcards he had made during his period of detention, was held at Kirklands in Menston, 1981, to mark his 80th birthday and his long association with the Menston Arts Club.