Monday, 15 May 2017

Dave Pearson at the Bridgeman Art Library


One of the things that has taken us longer to achieve than originally planned has been to establish a link between the Dave Pearson Trust and the Bridgeman Art Library. Edward Lucie-Smith first put us in touch with the Bridgeman several years ago and since then we've rather struggled to get together the necessary high-quality images which we could submit to them. 

Now, at last, Ella and I have managed to send a selection to the Bridgeman and we're pleased to say that they have now created a page for Dave Pearson within their Art Library website. It means that copies of the selected painting scan be bought as prints from the Art Library to be used in publications, and proper copyright payments and credits will be awarded to our Trust. 

Below is a sample of a page from the Bridgeman. To look further go to https://www.bridgemanimages.com/en-GB/ and enter 'Dave Pearson' into their search engine. It includes tags to help organisations looking for a suitable image to narrow their search, and a lightbox facility to look at the artwork properly. 


Now we've managed to put a small number of Dave Pearson's images into the library, we hope to expand the number as high quality photographs become available. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Calendar Customs notebooks



For a long time I've been meaning to take a closer look at 11 Daler Calendar Customs sketchbooks that Dave left - 5 A5 and 6 A4 sizes. The Trust discovered many sketchbooks and notebooks, but these 11 are different as they are well organised and all of a kind. Most of them have a label on their cover to denote particular periods of the year - such as 'New Years Day', or simply by month. 

They contain Dave's notes and researches into English Calendar Customs, and they were used by him to inform the large relief oil paintings that he made in the 1970s, and the accompanying etchings (that we've just had reprinted). There are also just a few of the drawings that are diagrammatic sketches for specific prints or paintings and so, in these, it's possible to work out what each of the customs depicted in the final work relate to. 

There must be in total about 500 pages of drawings and writing - mostly in great condition, although a few (where he has remounted pages from another notebook) have been damaged by glue residue. The vast majority of the drawings are very sketchy, and are made up of simple, charming line drawings. But a number have been worked into, and these are the ones I particularly like. 

On May Day (fittingly) I went through the 11 books, and photographed just about all of the more detailed drawings. There were 72 in total, and for anyone who is interested I've put them into a photo-album called Calendar Customs on the Facebook page for The Dave Pearson Trust (https://www.facebook.com/davepearsontrust/ ).


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Exhibitions


For the past few months I've been able to spend more time working with Ella Cole at Dave Pearson's old studio, which is where the Dave Pearson Trust is based. Between us we've been following up our contacts with the intention of putting together some exhibitions of Dave's work. This is after a period of 2 or 3 years in which exhibitions of the work have been limited. 

During the past couple of weeks our efforts appear to finally be having an affect. We're now finalising dates for medium and large scale shows at the Turnpike in Leigh, and Leicester Grammar School, and with smaller shows at Dean Clough in Halifax, along with our friends at the Colourfield Gallery and According to McGee (York) showing pieces. Plus there's the enquiry from Zillah Bell, one of the major galleries specialising in prints (see previous blog). Dean Clough have intimated that they may well consider a larger-scale show at some time in the future.  

This is good news, and shows that even a relatively small effort on our behalf can result in real interest in Dave's work being revived. On Monday this week we hosted a coach load of visitors from Merseyside Arts Fund and, miraculously, squeezed 40 visitors into the studio. Everyone enjoyed the visit, and we even made a sale...plus the promise from others to return for a closer look. 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Dave's studio

As we've reorganised things at Dave's old studio in order to accommodate the Apna organisation in one of the ground-floor rooms, we've also made better use of the rest of the building.








We think it's looking fine, and a far better place to show the extent and quality of Dave's work than before. On Monday we're hosting a visit by the Arts Fund, who are bringing a coach-party of about 40 people. It'll be a squeeze to fit everyone in, but we're prepared....

Monday, 17 April 2017

Plans




There's new momentum about at Dave Pearson's studio. For a start with Apna (see previous blog) joining us in the building there's simply more people around - holding workshops, meetings, classes and so on. 

Last week an officer from the Arts Council visited Apna for one of their meetings and took the opportunity to look around the studio. Apparently he was very impressed; for us at the Trust to have this kind of opportunity to widen knowledge of Dave's legacy is invaluable, and it chimes well with the efforts we're making to initiate a fresh round of exhibitions of the work. 

As part of these new initiatives Ella and I visited Leicester Grammar School at the weekend (above) to look at their large exhibition space and plan a show for the end of the year, or in early 2018. We're also expecting a visit from Zillah Bell Gallery, who are one of the country's very best dealers in prints, to look at the new 'Calendar Customs' series. On top of this we are expecting to settle dates for the Turnpike exhibition very soon, and the Colourfield Gallery of Poynton have sold the 4 pieces of work that they took at the end of 2016 and are wanting more. 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Apna arrives




This week the Apna joined us at the Dave Pearson Trust, and today the first proper class was held in the downstairs room - an EFL class - and about 10 women from the South Asian community attended, with a teacher provided by the Lancashire BME organisation and a local woman, Hina, supervising. 

The downstairs room that the Apna has taken over is now suitably comfortable, with better heating and appropriate Islamic artwork (above). Afterwards the teacher was shown around the building by Hina and Arry Nessa, who is managing Apna, and shares a desk in our upstairs office - alongside myself and Ella Cole.   

Although we've made a few sacrifices in order to accommodate the group, it's been relatively straightforward, and the studio still holds thousands of Dave Pearson's paintings and artworks. In fact the effect has been to make us rethink and redesign things, so in may ways the building now provides an even better home for the work. For example, we've replaced the Apna room as a showing space for Dave Pearson's work by improving the upstairs landing gallery (below).


Best of all the building is now far livelier, as naturally it's attracting more visitors. There's now absolutely no danger of it becoming a dead storage facility. We've had to create new security systems and update our facilities, but its been good for the Trust to smarten things up a little, and create a facility that now has a real community function. 

We're convinced that Dave would have approved, and we feel that the decision to invite Apna to join us has been a situation that everyone has gained from. 




Monday, 20 February 2017

The Cellar




As we are reorganising things at Dave Pearson's studio, in order to create space to accommodate Apna and the South Asian heritage womens groups that will be using the downstairs rooms, we've been looking at the other spaces in the building with fresh eyes.

One of these spaces is the cellar area. This was by-passed during the refurb work on the property in 2009. The building, on Manchester Road, Haslingden, is a terrace, but a rather grand terrace. It would probably have been the house for a professional - maybe a lawyer, or a senior manager in one of the mills. They would have had servants, and the upper floor is probably where the servants slept. The cellar would have been the servants working area, with their own stove, boiler (for cooking and cleaning for the owner, no doubt) etc. Now days the cellar has no natural light (it's below ground level) but originally it would have had lighting from pavement grills. 

Because the house was bought by Dave in the late 70s as his studio, it hasn't been lived in for a long time, so it retains the original fireplaces, tiled floors, etched windows and the cellar, although in a rough condition, still has its Victorian fittings. Above, from the top, are the stone slab table to conserve meats and dairy; centre the old sink and internal drain (plus bricks up window); and at the bottom a view of one of the cellar rooms showing the stove, the boiler and the stone sink.

At present we use it as store for old archive material, and various odds and ends. It's actually quite a sizeable area so it has potential - as a gallery space, for example. It's not too damp either. Access is down some very pokey stone stairs, and there would be fire-escape issues, but I wonder what could be done if we decided to use it more effectively. Does anybody have experience of this sort of conversion?