Steve Williams: Stewart Scholar, Artist, and creator of Stamps

The painting of George R. Stewart’s books and the Hammer of Ish that heads this weblog is the work of Steve Williams.  Steve grew up in Liverpool, went to art school there (with Lennon and McCartney), married Carol, found a good job, and raised a family.  He discovered George R. Stewart along the way, becoming quite a Stewart scholar.

I met Steve when he traveled to Berkeley to research the Stewart papers at the Bancroft Library.  Later, when I went to Britain, Steve, Carol and family hosted me on a tour of Beatles sites in Liverpool and Castles in Wales.

Steve retired several years ago.  Returning to his first love, he began teaching art and  painting.  You can see his work and watch a video of him discussing his art here:  http://community.saa.co.uk/art/stevewilliamsart

He paints a wide variety of subjects:  Lancaster bombers heading out on a raid, a ferry crossing the Mersey River, landscapes of this and other worlds.  One subject he’s focused on recently is Bletchley Park, where British intelligence successfully broke the German codes in World War II.  He’s donated several paintings to the site, which were sold to raise money to support its restoration and operation as a museum and education center. Here’s a site which showcases the Bletchley paintings.

One of Steve’s Bletchley Park paintings is of Alan Turing.  Turing played a major role in the code breaking, a role now showcased in The Imitation Game, when he refined the Polish Bombe Machine.  With the growing interest in Turing, and Bletchley Park, Steve was asked to donate several paintings to be used on stamps honoring  the role played by place and person.  The stamps were released recently:  Here’s the order form.

In a special Centennial Stamp set, Steve’s paintings of the Bombe machine, Turing’s Cottage, and a reunion of Bletchley Park workers  is paired with a painting of Turing by another artist.:

Turing set

The “Fellowship” of George R. Stewart is populated by people like Steve – creative people inspired by the remarkable ideas and books of Stewart, who express that inspiration in  personal acts of creativity:  Composer Philip Aaberg, NASA-JPL Ranger Mission Project Manager James D. Burke, Walt Disney, Jimi Hendrix, Stephen King, and many more.

Pioneering Friends of George R. Stewart

As the Year of the Book begins, I want to honor two people who set out years ago to honor the work of George R. Stewart. Vic Moitoret was a World War II Navy meteorologist who survived two carrier sinkings carrying a notebook of favorite books which included Stewart’s STORM. Near the end of the war he was sitting in the Honolulu airport when a friend introduced him to — George R. Stewart. After the war and retirement Moitoret and his wife retired to Silver City, New Mexico, set up a small fine art press, and began to write and print small belle lettres. He also established the first George R. Stewart Fan Club.

That lead Moitoret to a meeting with Humanities and English professor Bob Lyon. Lyon had founded a similar group, The Friends of George R. Stewart. His intention was to gather Stewart fans together at meetings of the Western Literature Association or similar events. Moitoret and Lyon joined with others a few times, which eventually led to a series of Stewart papers at one meeting of the WLA. They also played a key role in the visit of artist and Stewart scholar Steve Williams to Stewart Country.