Wednesday, 21 September 2011

To Tromso with love!

The appointment was 2pm on Monday and he was spot on time despite walking the seven miles from Loweswater where he was staying. He bought the unframed Percy Kelly drawing of Loweswater church, stashed it in his rucksack and set off to walk back down the River Cocker. This was just the beginning of its journey. It will travel by bus, several trains and planes to its new home north of the Arctic Circle.  Loweswater was Kelly's favourite place in Cumbria. His second wife Christine referred to it as Percy's Happy Hunting Ground. It's things like this that make running a gallery so interesting and rewarding.

Our Norweigian friend bought his first Kelly, spotted on our web site 2 years ago making the same special pilgrimage. His second was posted in an appropriate canister which had contained a bottle of Scapa single malt whisky. But the Scapa had flowed and the empty tube came in handy.

The first painting to sell on the opening day of the Bennett show was by Michael Bennett and is also going to make a long journey - to Washington DC. The purchaser has not yet seen it and has acquired it by the magic of the web and e mails.

The Bennett show is roaring along. There are a few things left; see the exhibitions page of the web site and see the red spots. You'll have to be quick to secure one.

If the genii of the lamp appeared  in my office with 2 wishes, the top of the long list would be superfast broadband and a cumbrian airport no matter how small and limited. Tourists and IT dinosaurs love this place for its peace and quaintness but to run an international business here is frustrating at times. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else BUT we do need efficient tools to exist and compete in such isolation so far from the capital.

I suppose I want it all - but it's good to dream.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


AFTER HERCULES is the theme of my talk at The Heron Theatre at Beetham (South of Kendal) on Friday 16th September at 7.30 pm.

A lot has happened during and after the publication of the book - so there will be more stories of art and artists, more strange predicaments and plenty of new developments. People are always saying 'you have such an interesting life' but there are times when it gets a little too 'interesting' and I wish it would just stand still for a little while to allow me to catch up with myself.

There will be bits of film, updated news of Hercules the brain surgeon and Philip the amorous sculptor, new characters and new adventures and much more. The farmer's wife, Karen Wallbank will be with us that evening in person with her droll wit and a small exhibition of paintings in the foyer for you to enjoy.

You can book on 015395 64283 or through or at the HERON theatre, Stanley Street, Beetham, Milnthorpe, Cumbria, LA7 7AS


There has been a tremendous response to my last newsletter about June and Michael Bennett's upcoming exhibition. Unfortunately I haven't been as clear as I should have been about arrangements to buy.

The exhibition actually opens at 10.30 on the morning of Friday 9th September. We will begin selling work then and will take orders by phone, e mail and in person.

In the evening of the 9th September there will be a 'MEET THE ARTISTS' reception 6.00 - 8.00. to which you are all invited and we will be selling then as well. I am sure there will be plenty left to choose from.

Anyone travelling just to the evening 'do' or who is unable to come at all can put themselves on the 'Wish list' for any piece and we will reserve it for them on the day providing nobody else got there first in person at 10.30 am.

Sorry that is complicated. E mail me if you need more information/explanation/reservation and I'll do my best to help.

Friday, 2 September 2011

June and Michael Bennett Exhibition

June and Michael Bennett have pulled it off again and produced a magnificent exhibition which fills the whole gallery with colour and light. June's work is immediate and exuberant with thick textures making a bold statement. Michael's is more studied and dreamlike. He sometimes works on a painting for years building up layer upon layer of paint and impasto.

I have worried in the past in the run-up to an exhibition because his studio is full of work in progress with nothing he will admit to being finished. But now after more than twenty years as his dealer I am more relaxed because I know it will all come together and it has.

To celebrate this fabulous collection of work which opens 9th September and runs until 10th October we are having an evening 'soiree' on Friday 9th September 6.00pm - 8.00pm. June and Michael will be there so you can come and meet them. There will be wine and nibbly bits, chatter and laughter.

If you can't come, you can tour the exhibition at on the exhibitions page.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Painting of the week - St Bees by Malcolm Wilson

Malcolm Wilson is an architect who has his head in the clouds. By day he is busy running a practice in Carlisle designing cutting edge buildings and developing sharp modernist schemes. In any spare time he can find in his hectic schedule, he paints cloudscapes. A quiet modest man, he has designed a beautiful modernist house for Michael and I, but it was only recently that I discovered his secret paintings of clouds.

An artist's role is to change the way see things and Malcolm has certainly made us cloud watchers. We can even put names to some of them now and have only bumped into things a few times while gazing upwards. It took patience and a lot of persuasion before he brought four small oils to the gallery a few weeks ago and as soon as they were hung, they were snapped up. And now the bigger ones are emerging. This oil of St Bees is magnificent. We have some new little ones as well.

Come in and see them before our Summer Exhibition ends on 5th September. We are open Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays. Don't forget we are open Bank Holiday Monday 10.30 - 5.00. I'll be in the gallery that day as well as on Saturday. We do enjoy seeing you all so drop in. The Summer Exhibition is changing all the time.

Friday, 19 August 2011

The Silence is Broken

The silence is broken. I have been in writing purdah. But now the next book has gone off to the publishers and I can live again! I have been head down and working like crazy on the incredible story of Percy Kelly - the man who couldn't stop drawing. Not sure of the title yet but hoping the publishers will get it printed by Christmas. There will be a Cumbrian launch and a London launch so it will cover a wide spectrum. Percy wanted to be famous AFTER his death which was 18 years ago and I think I am fulfilling his wishes.

What is the magnetism of Percy's work? I call it THE KELLY EFFECT. I see it happening to people who have never seen his work before and have never heard of him. They sleep-walk into possesing one. It is a compulsion.

The summer exhibition is roaring alomg with new things arriving as fast as other things go out. A new batch of work by Karen Wallbank is now at the framers, some new landscapes by Helen Tabor arrived last week and we have some large oils from a new artist, Malcolm Wilson who is fascinated by clouds.(there are some tiny ones as well). He is an architect in his day job but occasionally has his head in the clouds. I will get those on the web site soon for you to see. And of course we do have just a few Kellys.

We are open Bank Holiday weekend - Friday, Saturday and Monday as usual and it will be great to see you if you are in the vicinity - or decide to make a trip. We have an excellent B&B only a few doors away at 6 Castlegate. There's always so much going on round here but then you can escape into the hills. It's not raining at the moment!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Summer Exhibition

The jewel of our Summer Exhibition which opens on Friday is this beautiful painting by Winifred Nicholson titled Lily of the Valley St Bees. Her eldest son Jake was at St Bees School during the war for a time. Winifred visited him there and made several paintings looking across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man. There is a still life of irises on the back of the canvas so it is a case of two for the price of one. She sometimes did this. This work was exhibited at The Lefevre Gallery in April 1946.

Winifred died thirty years ago and her work is increasingly in demand. Recently a similar sized oil, Sea Treasures, came up for auction in London and fetched a staggering £147,000. This one is a fraction of the price . - a bargain then?

As I write other work is coming in for the Summer Exhibition. Let's hope we have a summer to go with it.

Karen Wallbank is back on form. I just received three large odd shaped parcels wrapped in wallpaper and gaffer tape. It's always exciting opening Karen's mad offerings because we never know what we will find. This one is treasure - full of misty landscapes on canvas and flocks of sheep on card. We've had a scramble to get them framed. She will be in the gallery on Saturday if you want to meet her. She has a droll sense of humour so there will be much laughter I imagine.

Alistair Tucker, who is a printmaker and painter, has contributed an interesting selection of work. There are some delicate porcelain pots from Sue Paretskove and new pots from William Plumptre. We are awaiting some new work from Sarah Carrington who hasn't exhibited with us for some years. She has been producing children not paintings and moved to Ireland but she is now back on form with some Irish seascapes and coastal landscapes to add to her studies of Scotland. I will put her images up on the web site as soon as I get them.

We hang on Thursday so hope to see you this weekend or during the summer - It goes on until 5th September.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


'Be careful, the paint's still wet!' was the warning as Marie Scott came through the door last Sunday. Fresh from her easel, the painting to the right still has no title - it may evolve or it may stay as Untitled 42. (or it may come to rest on our wall as so many other Scotts have done.) She propped it up on the sideboard and we ogled it as we drank a wee glass of champagne. It's the best she's done for some time so it came home with us where we are enjoying it a lot. It will hit the gallery wall next weekend though it's tempting.....


Where will you find a live artist, live music and a sonic garden this Saturday? Cockermouth of course

Douglas Davies - our current exhibitionist - will be in the gallery meeting people and talking about his work. He has just got back from France where he does much of his painting. See his work on

And - I hardly dare write this in case it upsets the Sun God again - there will be more live music in the garden depending on the weather of course. There will be music all over the town; in Wordsworth House, Jennings' Brewery, The Memorial Gardens and Toy Shop Alley (not to be confused withTin Pan Alley!) to name a few venues for Cockermouth Live! There will be no escape. There will be a Sonic Garden in the Market Place 11 - 4.00 when you can experiment in making music yourself. - sounds interesting and noisy? There will be something for everyone in the town including the tone deaf.- erm especially for the tone deaf maybe.

We begin at the gallery with ambient jazz by ESP at 1.00, vocalist Annemarie Quinn at 2.00 and accoustic rock with Kitchie Wood at 3.00. There will be a bar. More details on

Jazz on a Summer afternoon last Sunday was sadly relocated in the Kirkgate. Despite erecting a gazebo in the garden to protect the band, the sky was black and foreboding - and it was cold. Organiser Bob Pritchard who works so hard for the town was determined it should be in the garden but was overruled by the band when they arrived who insisted they needed to keep their instruments dry. They were proved right as it got colder and a bit drizzly as the afternoon went on.