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John Bickerdike

John Bickerdike woodcarver/sculptor and puppet maker was born at Windhill, near Shipley in 1895. He was apprenticed, aged 14, to a woodcarver and attended evening classes at Bradford School of Art.  During World War One he enlisted in the army, fighting at Mesopotamia. After the war he returned to Bradford and worked as a woodcarver and sculptor for local architects, and for Watney’s Brewery, where his wood carvings and sculptures were used to decorate pubs. Eventually he worked independently as a wood sculptor, which included commissions for Clough Williams-Ellis at Portmeirion, and angels and other religious figures for churches and cathedrals.

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He also made large architectural models, including several for museums in Ghana. Bickerdike exhibited a sculptural work: ‘John’, at the Inaugural Exhibition of the Work of Living British Artists in 1927, at Leeds City Art Gallery. His work was included in the ‘Sculpture in Britain Between the Wars’ exhibition at the Fine Art Society in 1986. He was married to the painter Rhoda Bickerdike (née Dawson), and together they established the successful Ebor Marionettes that toured Britain during the 1930s. John made the puppets and the sets, whilst his wife made the costumes. Together they manipulated the puppets and performed the dialogue for the plays.

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