Sven Berlin is often labelled as ‘self-taught’ but this is not entirely the case. You may not know that he attended the Engineering School in Anerley as a young boy and was able to spend time in their drawing room, leaving two years later with a certificate to enable him to work as a mechanical draughtsman. He found a more imaginative and inspiring surroundings in the grounds of Crystal Palace, a fantasy world where he sketched the statues and the landscape around the lakes. He was devastated when the edifice was destroyed by fire in November 1936. By coincidence, the Engineering School lecture room now houses the Crystal Palace Museum. Before leaving London for Cornwall, Berlin was also a student at the Beckenham School of Art.
The ability to sketch and capture a moment in just a few lines demonstrates an enviable draughtsman’s skill, one which Berlin further developed with Arthur C Hambly RWA, SGA, FRSA, whose classes he attended in Camborne. Hambly, who was the Headmaster of Camborne and Redruth School of Art at the time and a member of the St. Ives Society of Artists, said that Berlin was the ‘best and most hard-working student he had ever had.’