Forget the Adams Family, meet Uncle Whacker

Artist Peter ChapmanA MENACING figure looms, holding firmly onto a lead with a spider on the end of it. In the background a haunted face appears, more spiders erupting from its brain as a clown and a tiny Donald Trump spider look on.

It could be a scene from a horror movie or a nightmare, but it’s really artist Peter Chapman’s studio, where fantastical figures live alongside traditional paintings of the Norfolk landscape.

He was born in 1939, weeks before the start of the Second World War, into an artistic family. But his route to becoming a professional artist whose work has been sold all over the world, was via the sea.

His mum Rose was a painter and he and his brother Dave would compete against each other, sketching pictures inspired by the newspaper cartoon strips of the time.

In 1955 Dave went to art college and then a career in the art world. Years later his sons Dinos and Jake found fame with controversial works that earned them the nickname the Brothers Grim. 

Peter’s life took a different route. “They all said I should go to art college but I couldn’t see any future in it so I joined the navy.”

Even now with years as a successful artist under his belt he reckons he would sign up again if offered the chance. “I’ve never had such a good time in my life.”

During his 14-year-career he served on the carrier Ark Royal as an aircraft engineer and in 1964 took part in one of the navy’s toughest challenges – the field gun competition – in which crews dismantle a 1,250lb field gun and carriage, take them over an obstacle course, reassemble them and fire.

When he was due to leave he was offered the chance to become a flight sergeant in the Zambian Air.