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John Petts
(1914 — 1991)

John Petts was a British artist celebrated for his engraving and stained glass designs. Born in London in 1914, Petts studied at the Hornsey College of Art, London where he first specialised in engraving and painting. Though the artist was set to study at the Royal Academy Schools Petts relocated to North Wales in 1935, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. The artist founded the Caseg Press at Llanllechid in Snowdonia in 1937. During this time Petts developed his command of engraving and typography design significantly. Alongside illustrating greetings cards and bookplates printed by his own Caseg Press, Petts often contributed engravings to publications such as the Welsh Review and the London Mercury before developing the Caseg Broadsheet, a news publication of his own. In 1953 Petts was elected to the Society of Wood Engravers, and received a commission from the Golden Cockerel Press to produce a series of wood engravings executed in the artist’s highly distinctive style in the same year. In 1957 the artist was elected Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers. Though the artist continued to produce his highly successful engravings for many years, in the late 1950s Petts began to explore the art of stained glass design. One of the artist’s most significant stained glass designs can be seen at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which Petts created as a memorial piece following the racially-charged bombing of the church. The window, gifted to the church by the artist, was produced and installed using funds raised by Petts and the Welsh community. The artist was Assistant Director of Visual Arts for Wales and later served on the Arts Council of Great Britain from 1958 to 1961.


Petts continued to produce stained glass windows for several churches throughout his adopted home of Wales and his native England, including the Brighton and Hove synagogue. The artist died in 1991. His work remains in the collections of the National Library of Wales and the National Museum Wales.