Artist: James Gunyeon (Tim) Jeffs

Date of Birth:
1904
Date of Death:
1975
Place of Death:
Drowned in boating accident, Loch Ken
Residence in Dumfries & Galloway:

41 English Street, Dumfries; 9 High Street, Kirkcudbright; 12 Loreburn Chambers, Great King Street, Dumfries

Education:

Dumfries Academy

Exhibited At:

Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts; Dumfries and Galloway Fine Arts Society; Kirkcudbright Arts and Crafts Exhibition, Constitutional Hall, Kirkcudbright; Langholm Art Exhibition, Reid and Taylor

Associates:

Jessie M King, Thomas Lochhead

Bibliography:

Tales of the Kirkcudbright Artists, Haig Gordon, Kirkcudbright, 2006

Image of the artist, Stewartry Museum.  Dumfries Museum also has a number of images of the artist

Notes:

Born in Dumfries. Trained as motor engineer with Arrol Johnston. Appointed curator of Dumfries Museum 1939. Arts and craft teacher, moved to Kirkcudbright 1945. Best known for his carved caskets and illuminated scrolls. Produced memorial work for Churchill and Eisenhower. Represented in Paul Jones Crypt at the naval College, Annapolis, USA. Reference to silhouettes of Jessie M King and E A Taylor, 1932 (SNPG file).


James Gunyeon (Tim) Jeffs was the youngest child of Andrew M Jeffs, a fishmonger in Dumfries.  After leaving school he trained as an apprentice motor mechanic for Andrew Millar, Nithsdale Motor Works, Nith Street Dumfries and on successful completion of his apprenticeship he worked as a motor engineer and car tester for Arrol Johnston and Ester Engineering in Heathhall, Dumfries.

During the 1930s after winning a poster competition, he started work as a commercial artist, designing book jackets and posters for the local cinema. He also worked with Jessie M King making a range of wooden toy buildings and assisted her in exhibition in Dumfries.

In 1933 he was appointed assistant curator of Dumfries Burgh Museum and in 1939, Curator.

After his marriage in 1938 he set up home and studio at 41 English Street, Dumfries and held his first exhibition there at the end of the year.

From 1940 until 1945 he was employed as a visiting teacher of woodwork and crafts at many Dumfriesshire schools and in 1945 he was appointed teacher at Kirkcudbright Academy.  The family moved to 9 High Street, Kirkcudbright purchasing it from John E Cluysenaar, a Belgian artist and sculpture.

He was particularly well known for the caskets he carved and the beautifully illuminated scrolls he executed in connection with the civic “freedom” ceremonies which took place all over the country after the Second World War. In 1945 Jeffs made a wooden “freedom” casket in the form of a miniature sea chest for the Burgh of Kirkcudbright to present to the Right Honourable Thomas Johnstone.   He went on to make over 100 individually designed caskets for many notable persons, Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Boothby, Dwight D Eisenhower and Astronaut Neil Armstrong were among the recipients.

By 1948 he became a freelance artist/craftsman and was one of a group of local artists and craft workers who established the annual Kirkcudbright Summer School for Arts and Crafts with Jeffs and his wife taking the spinning and weaving classes.

A multi-talented individual, he was s sculptor, artist in oils and watercolours, calligrapher, woodworker, spinner and weaver.  Many examples of his work can be seen at Dumfries Museum and The Stewartry Museum.  His town signs can be seen at the entrance to many local towns and his plaques are in many public buildings in the area.