Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Found in a Shoebox

It was on top of the wardrobe in the spare room. It was covered in dust. The artist Percy Kelly had given it to her for safe keeping in 1983. He died alone in Norfolk ten years later. She had forgotten about it until I turned up asking questions because I was writing his biography.

The lid was removed in a cloud of dust to reveal shopping lists, addresses, recipes for marmalade and receipts for building materials - and an exquisite collection of small paintings hiding among the other things; The colours are bright and fresh and the subjects are landscapes of Cumbria where he lived for 50 years of his life, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall and Norfolk.

This is real treasure and forms part of a new exhibition opening at the gallery on Friday 1st April called Fifty Little Gems. They are all shown on the web site. E-mail us for a price list.

This is not my first find in my last few months of research but it is the biggest and most surprising (so far!). Percy lost a lot of his precious work in his first divorce in 1970 so when he was going through his second divorce in 1983 he was paranoid about losing any more.

He parcelled up small collections and gave them to friends to keep for him and promptly forgot about some of them - and so did the friends. He was poor and ill and suffering from depression. He gave a similar box to his elder sister Sally who died in Workington just before he did in 1993 but this has never been found. It was probably destroyed in the house clearance.

Added together with my other recent finds I realised I had more than 50 of these little gems which would make a superb exhibition. There is a 50 page catalogue available in which each is illustrated. (£10)

We are having an evening viewing on Thursday 31st March 6.00 - 8.00 to which you are invited. The exhibition opens to the public at 10.30 next day - Friday 1st April. Nothing will be sold before then.

To make it fair we will accept sales by e mail and telephone as well as personal callers. We know there are collectors coming from Moscow, Norway, Edinburgh and London. Kelly has now grown way beyond his native Cumbria. After his exhibitions in London as well as at Castlegate House his reputation is now firmly set as a 20th Century British artist of some importance.

Maybe there are more little gems waiting to be discovered.

The biography will be published towards the end of this year - unless I find a lot more material, letters and people who knew him. Each discovery leads on to more. There is no end to this genius of an artist.

Come and see this breathtaking exhibition. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays 10.30 - 5.00

Friday, 18 March 2011

The Lamb-eth Walk

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

Curator's Choice

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.