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David Wilde was born in Manchester in 1913 (died 1974), as Norman Shacklock. It was a name that he did not like and, once successful, he adopted the pseudonym David Wilde. He took David from his good friend David White and Wilde because he thought it summed up his lifestyle.

He was an exceptional pupil and is alleged to have been admitted to the Manchester School of Art at the age of just twelve. He studied art there and later worked as a draughtsman and as a medical illustrator. He specialised in female anatomy, which he was employed to draw for surgeons at the local hospitals, and illustrated a medical textbook on birth.

During the Second World War he served as a draughtsman at the rank of Petty Officer and later became a freelance artist and designer for national companies. He worked for nine years as a senior technical artist at Carlton Press, during which time he became acquainted with Lowry and Peter Blake

During the sixties he had a reputation across Europe as a genius of erotic art. He illustrated a series of erotic books and short stories and his work was featured in Paris alongside that of Dali and Picasso; In those days the nature of his erotic work meant that his work could not be shown publically in the UK. Wilde enjoyed the high life and gained a certain notoriety in the company of celebrities and the aristocracy. He spent his time on the Continent and in London before returning to his roots in Manchester.

Wilde’s antidote to the heady world of erotic art was to paint brightly coloured, surreal landscapes of his native Manchester and his beloved Wales. This body of work, reminiscent of the Italian Futurists of the day, is completely different in nature from his erotic catalogue and was never publically exhibited during his lifetime. Wilde suffered a short illness and died in hospital in 1974. There was some intrigue about the circumstances of his death and it is said that, due to his determination to expose various secret societies there were concerns about the safety of his work and it was hidden away for safekeeping. His surreal work was thus kept from the marketplace for thirty years after his death. The author Chris Kirwan published a book entitled “David Wilde, Manchester’s Hidden Artist” which contains lots of fascinating facts about his life.

The body of work that Wilde has left includes his famous erotic art, the surreal works of Wales and Manchester and also poetry and collages of his early infatuation with Marilyn Monroe. The surreal works are now finding their way into the hands of Northern Art collectors.
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