Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Long time; no see...

It's been ten months since my last blog, and eight of those we've been under lockdown due to the pandemic.   

Inevitably, things have slowed right down during this period. The studio in Haslingden has had to close its doors, although I've been working on and off in tidying the collection; trying to make more space; and hanging a new (sadly almost totally unseen) exhibition of some of Dave's small oil paintings. 

Sales have inevitably dropped right away, although interest has picked up again these past few weeks, which has been encouraging.

The annual Rossendale Art Trail for 2020 was cancelled because of the pandemic, and as a second-best we've created a new website - Rossendale Art Trail Online - at, which I spent much of the late summer designing. The Dave Pearson Studio features as an exhibition venue in its listings, although Dave Pearson is not included as it's very much a site for practicing artists. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2019


It's now over 10 years since I started writing this blog. Initially the motivation was to give advice and support to others who might, like us, find themselves facing the daunting task of having to manage an artist's estate after their death.

Inevitably the first years' were an extremely steep learning curve - setting up a Trust; selling items of Dave's work to benefit his son Chris; cataloguing the huge amount of artwork; creating various websites; organising exhibitions; looking at the legal aspects of a complex inheritance...and so on, and on...and on.

I've documented much of this in this Artists Estate Blog and gradually, over the decade, our workload has settled down. At the same time, other changes have been made. The studio, which holds most of Dave's artwork, has given over space to local women from South Asian background - known as Apna, and their classes, workshops and various other activities have helped keep our building lively and exciting. 

But we continue to learn and develop. Over the past year or so we've wound down the Trust and from it created the Dave Pearson Studio; we've designed an on-line shop ( to sell original artwork by Dave Pearson, and we've curated a large-scale exhibition at The Turnpike in Leigh.

Most of the collection or work left behind by Dave Pearson has now been catalogued. But it's far from being done and dusted - just today, for instance, we've discovered a number of works on paper that somehow have been overlooked. 

The upper painting is ink on paper, and although I uncovered it a few years ago it somehow disappeared from sight and only reappeared today. The lower mixed media work, again on paper, is unusual for Dave Pearson, in its 'English romantic' colouring. I'm not at all sure of the dates of either - I think probably that they are from when Dave was in his mid-20s (early 1960s), but I'm not at all sure of this. As our archivist Ella Cole points out, the lower piece has some similarities with the Calendar Customs work of the later 1970s. 

We're on firmer ground with Dave's 'Van Gogh' period. This was from the late 1960s, and it was work he was doing when I first met him. Today we came across about 100 pieces of work from that time. They had already been catalogued, but before the present software was in place, so today we reorganised them to fit in to the new system. 

It's a period of Dave's work that we haven't done much with recently. But with the rediscovery of this tranche of drawings it could well be something we might build an exhibition around in the near future. The large-scale pieces he made at this time - the huge reconstruction of 'Van Gogh's Bedroom', or 'The Potato Eaters' have all been lost, but some of these beautiful graphic works survive and are well worth showing.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

A glimpse at 1967

The photographer Paul Brown (, who I knew during the 1960s, recently got in touch as he has been scanning in some old negatives, and came across a few from visiting Dave Pearson, probably in 1967. 

These were taken in Dave's house at 14 Burgess Street, Haslingden, now demolished and turned into the car park at the rear of the library. 

They take me back to a time when I was student of Dave's. Shortly after these were taken I moved to Haslingden myself. Dave generously put me up for a period of several months before I finally found myself a home of my own in Snig Hole, Helmshore. 

Dave is working on a larger-than-lifesize replica of Van Gogh's Bedroom, which I slept in some of the time. 

Monday, 7 October 2019

Rossendale Art Trail II

We had exactly 100 visitors to 54 Manchester Road over the weekend. People enjoyed both Dave Pearson's work and Ashfia Ashrif at Apna in the ground floor room. We made a few sales too...

Thanks to Dave Smith for his help on Saturday, and to Ella Cole on Sunday. Yasmine Choudry produced lovely food throughout...It was exciting to talk to so many people who were enthused by their visit. Some regular faces of course, but also many people who were here for the first time. 

On visitor wanted to track down the mysterious shopper who used to come along regularly to the art shop he worked at in central Manchester, and buy 'armfuls' of inks. This happened so often that they started having to order larger and larger quantities. He wanted to find a photograph of Dave to see if he was indeed the mystery shopper. And yes, he was! 

Andy Holt visited too; the first time for a couple years. Andy had advised us, a few years back, on our presentation of Dave's work. Some of his suggestions had been quite radical and made us rethink our attitudes to curating Dave's legacy. Anyway it was encouraging that Andy was very enthusiastic about what he found on this visit. He particularly liked the way that the Apna space and the presence of local Asian women, and Islamic inspired art, gave our building a new sense of life and identity. 

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Rossendale Art Trail 2019

We're busy preparing for the local Art Trail/Open Studios for the weekend of October 5th and 6th. 

It's been a quiet couple months, as it usually is over summer, but we're launching the Autumn and Winter season at Dave Pearson's Studio with an exciting new show. It consists of previously unseen paintings that we've had framed especially for the Art Trail. Our good friend (and talented painter himself) Paddy Campbell is framing 25 oil paintings, and next week we'll be hanging them. 

If you can't make the weekend, the show will stay up over the Winter, and it's easy to phone or email us to make an appointment. We'll also put the pieces up on our shop - - and they can all be bought online. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Calendar Customs

Today we've hung a small show at The Whitaker, Rawtenstall. It's a selection of a dozen pieces by Dave Pearson from his series of works made between 1973 and 1985, based on British (mainly English) Calendar Customs

It's all part of the Rossendale Heritage Festival, which includes a wide range of events from Bengali stand-up comedy to Lancashire dialect poetry. It embraces the traditional Carnival held at the Bacup and Stacksteads end of the Valley, as well as the Larks of Dean quire, Waterfoot Wakes, heritage readings and storytelling by Hina Qureshi. 

We've taken over one of the two upstairs galleries at the Whitaker, our local museum. The other room is being converted into a pop-up cinema and there will be showings of Derek Smith's film about Dave Pearson, along with Arcadia, a much acclaimed film shown on BB2 earlier this year which uses old film footage to paint a wild, dark and slyly humorous look at English traditional customs. 

We've been able to show a selection of Dave's large cardboard relief paintings, as well as etchings and small oil paintings. Thanks to Paddy Campbell and Ella Cole for their help in hanging the work - the show opens tomorrow and stays up until Sunday the 14th July.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Art Quarterly

Throughout 2018 I was talking with the Art Fund about donating a small collection of work by Dave Pearson to a museum or art gallery. The series of drawings were being gifted by a collector who wished to remain anonymous. They were from a series of beautiful graphite drawings that Dave called 'In The Seven Woods', and they were inspired by the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance. Here's a selection of the work:

Eventually the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), based at Reading University, accepted the gift, and they are now on display there. 

Today I found a package sent to me from the Art Fund that included a copy of the Art Quarterly which contained this short piece on the gift: 

It's good to see Dave's work getting publicity in this way, and interesting that these pieces have ended up in a collection dedicated to the 'life and traditions of the English countryside' which Dave immersed himself in the mid-1970s and 80s when he produced his "Calendar Customs' and 'In The Seven Woods' series.