Saturday, 8 January 2011

Percy goes to London

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.