An artist who gave many others the chance to have their work displayed in public will be celebrated with a posthumous exhibition.

Francis Smith died in May 2020 from Covid-19, aged 87.

His family was not able to be with him when he died in hospital and Covid restrictions only a limited number of people were allowed to attend his funeral.

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Now his work is being exhibited at the Pump House Theatre and Arts Centre for his family, friends, and audiences to celebrate his life and work.

Francis had been an active member of the arts community in Watford since he moved to the area in 1969.

Watford Observer: The U3A art exhibition. Picture: Adam SmithThe U3A art exhibition. Picture: Adam Smith

In 2007 he established two art workshops at The Pump House theatre and Arts Centre.

And in 2008 he became the painting group leader for Watford Park University of the Third Age (U3A), an organisation that provides activities and social groups for people no longer in full-time work.  

Francis' enthusiasm led him to become a committee member of the Watford Area Art Forum and the chair of the Group U3A Arts Committee. 

He was actively involved the U3A exhibitions at the Harlequin shopping centre, now known as Atria.

The Watford Observer reported that the exhibition Francis coordinated in 2010 was visited by more than 1,200 people, featured 45 artists and 200 pieces of art were exhibited, ranging from watercolours through to bold acrylics and intense oils.

His colleague Barbara Woolner said at the time: “If it were not for the energy and commitment of Francis Smith, a practising artist and printmaker, none of this would be possible.

“He is an inspiration to us all.” 

Watford Observer: Some of Francis' work.Some of Francis' work.

Francis’ family told the Watford Observer that the U3A gave him the opportunity to explore interests in a wide variety of subjects and activities.

The group provided a home for those who wished to improve their art skills and to be part of a social group and a way of meeting people no longer in full-time employment “where like-minded colleagues have a chance to express their creative gifts. It is a way of developing the whole person.”

Francis has also had his work exhibited in private collections in London, Milan and Paris.

The event will take place on July 30 from 11am to 6.30pm.

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