Wednesday, 21 September 2011
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 www.castlegatehouse.co.uk 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
Friday, 2 September 2011
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 www.castlegatehouse.co.uk on the exhibitions page.
Friday, 26 August 2011
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
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
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 www.castlegatehouse.co.uk 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 www.castlegatehouse.co.uk/exhibitions
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 www.cockermouthfestival.org.
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.
Friday, 17 June 2011
Thursday, 9 June 2011
Cockermouth's Midsummer Festival starts Friday 17th June with an opening by broadcaster and writer Stuart Maconie. It just rolls on from there through the summer solstice with loads of attractive and exciting events all week. The gallery will host JAZZ ON A SUMMER AFTERNOON in the garden at Castlegate House on Sun 19 June at 3pm with Mike Lovell's 6 in Bar which is one of the most sought-after jazz bands in the North West.
I heard a whisper there might be Pimms as well. Heaven! Can't think of anything better than Jazz and Pimms on the lawn among the poppies, irises and old roses. Bring a rug and cushions if you wish. Otherwise there are benches and chairs. Like last year it will be relaxed and informal. If it happens to rain (heaven forbid) it will transfer to the Kirkgate but I think it will be a lovely summer afternoon in the garden - I feel it in my bones.
Many of the newly refurbished shops will be open that Sunday 12 - 4 including the long awaited Percy House (and us of course launching a new exhibition by Douglas Davies).
There are many more events all week. Please come and support us all - a lot of hard work has gone into the organisation. See www.cockermouthfestival.org/programme for more information.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Wednesday, 4 May 2011
Thursday, 21 April 2011
Monday, 4 April 2011
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Friday, 18 March 2011
Orange is the 'in' fashion colour this season filling the international cat walks and the like of Top Shop and New Look. We must have the most on-trend lambs in the country. Our local farmer has togged up the new-borns in little orange jackets and they are running about in the sunshine cheering everybody up.
The Literature festival is over. It was a good one full of stimulating ideas on literature, art, politics, philosophy and travel.
Our Curator's Choice exhibition has been enthusiastically applauded with plenty of red spots both at the theatre in The Friends' Gallery and at Castlegate House. This continues in both places until 28th March. Don't miss it.
My talk The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Gallery went down well and the strap line in the Keswick Reminder (our very own tabloid newspaper) was Anyone can run a gallery says Chris Wadsworth.
There you go - you know what to do!
Excitement is building for Percy Kelly's 50 little gems with catalogues winging their way across the world. We will send one to you post free for £10.
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
It is pure self indulgence - to hang an exhibition of all my favourite artists.
Angie and I had a great time yesterday hanging the gallery and I'm now off to Theatre by the Lake in Keswick to hang the rest there. It is proving to be a busy week.
The gallery is now back to Friday, Saturday, Monday opening after the winter break. Next week we are open Tuesday and Wednesday as well because of the Literary Festival.
This attracts a huge crowd of arts lovers who take a break from the talks for a walk by the Lake, in the town or a trip to the gallery. The Friends' Gallery at the theatre is open every day 9.00 - 21.00.
We have hung Blackadder and Rae, Kelly and Fell, Nicholson and Kyffin Williams and many more. Most of the works on show are for sale - there are just one or two I can't bear to part with.
For those of you within range, don't forget my talk A hitch hiker's guide to the gallery on Saturday at 2-15 at the theatre. You will find out how a commercial gallery works and sometimes how it doesn't.
I walked into this by chance 25 years ago and have 'hitch hiked' my way through with the help of artists, clients, friends and family and my worthy assistants.
Have a look at the web site and enjoy.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
We'll be hanging the Curator's Choice exhibition next week and I am having a difficult time deciding what to choose being the curator of the title. Wonder who thought that one up then!
In 24 years I have seen thousands of paintings and hundreds of artists so it is hard to narrow it down. The Winifred Nicholson Lily of the valley at St Bees is very special. It is the Isle of man in the distance.
Of course I will include Percy Kelly possibly my favourite artist of all time and Sheila Fell who was born near by. Eliza andrewes was a great and beautiful elegant friend who died in 2009 and must be included and Karen Wallbank - now famous as The farmer's wife as well as The Bennetts (Michael and June) who have been with me from the very beginning - always loyal and supportive, and Marie Scott whose work has changed the course of my life and Mary Fedden a wonderful friend from my Bristol days and .......
Oh this is turning into a list. You will have to wait and see what goes up. Half the exhibition will be at Theatre by the Lake Keswick and the rest at Castlegate House. - only ten miles apart so you can get to both. It runs from 4th - 28th March in both venues. The theatre is open daily 9.00 - 9.00 and Castlegate House open Fridays Saturdays and Mondays. In addition we are opening extra days during the Literary Festival - 4 - 13th March. See our web site for details www.castlegatehouse.co.uk
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
In 1988 I wrote a letter to artist Percy Kelly asking if he would have an exhibition at Castlegate House. His vehement refusal arrived by return on a sheet of paper with a lovely drawing on it. There was no way he was going to have an exhibition anywhere he wrote but he added that he did want to be famous after his death. funny that- most artists are desperate for fame in their lifetimes. But then PK was no ordinary artist. So I took up the baton determined to promote him after he had departed this world.
He died 15 years ago and I have at last delivered!
Last Tuesday, in a large gallery room, thick with the scent of flowers, I watched red spot after red spot appear on his paintings. This was in Messums Gallery in Cork Street London. Percy had made it!
Melvyn Bragg was an early visitor, Rosanna of the Purple House in Newlands, a couple who had queued outside my gallery all night in 1998 to buy a Kelly, a director of Sekers Silk who had encouraged him in the sixties and many many more crowded into the room.
On Monday17th an article in The Spectator headed MORE REAL ART PLEASE written by art critic Andrew Lambirth praised Percy's work and lauded the exhibition.
I have no hesitation in recommending the work of Percy Kelly (1918–93). Kelly was a strange and somewhat tortured man who also happened to be a brilliant draughtsman. Not many people in his lifetime knew this because he refused to exhibit or sell his work, and used to hide it away if even an admiring visitor (such as L.S. Lowry) came to call; he was convinced that Lowry would steal his ideas. Born in Workington, Cumberland, Kelly managed to exile himself from his beloved home-county — partly through a temperamental inability to earn money — first to Pembrokeshire and finally to Norfolk. The best of Kelly’s output is the grand series of powerfully mesmeric charcoal drawings he made in the late-1950s, mostly of landscape. They bear comparison with the cream of Sheila Fell’s work (which he knew and admired), but have a solidity and conviction, an earthbound magic, which is all his own.
He also got half a page in the Eastern Daily Press. Ian Collins wrote
Kelly's exquisite drawings and paintings soar above his muddle and trauma of his life in a final note of triumph
Hey - this is not the end - the best is yet to come!
Saturday, 8 January 2011
Percy Kelly was a chaotic, sexually confused transvestite postman who could paint and draw like an angel (can angels draw I ask myself?). He died in 1993 aged 76 in abject poverty in a Norfolk cottage stuffed with paintings - his life's work.
He was very retentive about his work, hated anyone seeing or touching it. If he sold a piece because he had no alternative - he would often ask for it back later. (don't think that one worked very often!)
After he died intestate in 1993 I managed to secure the estate and get the work brought back to his beloved county Cumberland (and there's a whole other story!). Since then I have promoted his work constantly, staged seven exhibitions at Castlegate House, had big queues outside before a show and watched people fall in love with the work. I am always thankful to survive an opening without being beaten up because feelings run high. Gradually his name has become known and his work respected and in demand. I am currently writing his biography which is all-absorbing. I am a woman obsessed!
On November 19th 2009 London gallery owners, David Messum and Carol Tee came up to Cockermouth to see us and we had lunch in the Trout Hotel which had just been awarded 4* and discussed a possible future joint exhibition. The following day the hotel was under water. The Derwent had burst its banks and flooded the town. Residents had been lifted out into lifeboats in their jamas and the bar and dining room where we had been sitting were destroyed. It took more than 6 months and several million pounds to put it back together again in business.
Messums were distressed to hear the news and immediately offered us the gallery in January 2010 for Percy Kelly, Sheila Fell and farmer's wife Karen Wallbank. We accepted gratefully. Messums is situated in Cork Street the epicentre of 20th Century Art directly behind the Royal Academy in London.
The star of the show was Kelly and I was delighted to be invited back to set up a Kellysolo show there this January. So nect Tuesday, opening night, we are off to London on the train to once again unleash Percy on London. Messums have produced a beautiful catalogue and I have accompanied the illustrations with an extended essay on the art and life of Percy Kelly. We are meeting up with old friends, London based clients and will have 5 fun packed days in the capital. Messums tell me they have sold 5 paintings already before it has even begun. That's a good omen.
I'll keep you posted.