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


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?

Friday, 27 January 2017

Expanding - new plans for our building

The process of changing our status from a Trust to a Limited Company (see recent posts) is now underway and in the hands of solicitors and taxation experts. 

As a result our focus has correspondingly altered from concern about the legalities as to how we will use the Dave Pearson building and, to an extent, looking at ways of keeping our costs down. We will, of course, continue to house Dave's work, and the process of cataloguing and ordering his output will remain - at least until the process is complete - at the heart of our work. But its also clear that we now have an opportunity to develop the building in more creative directions. 

At present, for example, we normally have one public open weekend each year - the annual Rossendale Arts Trail - and perhaps host one or two school visits, and a handful of visits from potential buyers of work or galleries. I've been aware for some time that, with a certain amount of reorganisation, we could also use the space for other activities. In particular I  knew that my friends at Apna, which is 2 minutes walk away in Haslingden centre, were having problems with their own small shop premises, so I asked them if they would consider a move to 54 Manchester Road.

Arry Nessa, who manages Apna, quickly saw the advantages for them - a reduction in rent, a generally warmer and friendlier building, plus becoming part of an existing creative environment. She checked it out with her colleagues, and we showed one or two around - and now the Apna organisation have agreed that they will move into one of the downstairs rooms at 54 by the end of next month. 

Work has now started at the Trust so that Apna can soon start holding its classes - yoga, well-being, language and various creative classes and cultural activities mainly for local South Asian women - at The Dave Pearson Centre

New heaters have already been installed (above), soon to be followed by hot-water and improved storage facilities. A postbox, more security, and a telephone line are being added, and new signs will be hung at the front of the building. 

We feel that Dave Pearson would have been delighted to see his old studio sharing its space with a new sister organisation, who will be opening their part of the building to their groups on several days each week. We're also improving the upstairs office so Arry can have desk space. Below Ella is discussing plans with Arry Nessa (seated). All of us are excited that the building will now be used by more people, while continuing to house its amazing collection of Dave's work. 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Reassessment - Part 3

The Trust members met together on 4th January to discuss the things we had learned from Amanda Freeman of Myerson Solicitors. Margaret Mytton and I had had a second meeting with Amanda on the 16th December to clarify things still further, and now we needed to talk things over with Chris Pearson. 

Since our earlier meeting (see Reassessment - Part 2 below) we had heard from Forbes Dawson, a tax specialist called in by Myerson, and their advice was to close the Trust and set up a Limited Company instead, in order to better manage the affairs of the Dave Pearson Estate. 

In fact, a one-off opportunity exists to do this before the 10th anniversary of the Trust. After that the option to undo Trust status no longer exists in law, and the Estate would continue - every 10 years - to have to undergo Estate Duty reassessment. It would mean that, as a result of all the work that I and others have done since Dave's death, there would be a considerable increase in value of the Estate since his death. This would be taxed, and a similar re-assessment - and the accompanying taxation - would have to be done very 10 years. 

But by withdrawing the Trust structure, there will be no need for such a reassessment; instead tax will simply be paid on all sales as with any other business, and this can be offset against our expenses (which it can't for a Trust). Further, as a limited company we can pay agents, or directors, to help us sell Dave's work. 

So Chris, Margaret and I have agreed to close the Dave Pearson Trust and to establish a new limited company. This will be done over the next 12 months. Chris will be the sole Shareholder, so the terms of Dave's will - that the Estate is left to his son - will continue to be met.

The limited company will need to compensate Directors and Agents in a way that the Trust did not, as Trustees must do any work for free. So increasing sales of Dave's work will become even more important. Not only to keep the studio afloat, the work being catalogued and archived, but now the need to pay some level of fees to anyone helping in this process. 

Fortunately we're continuing to make links in this respect, and Ed Perry of the Colourfield Gallery in Poynton visited over the holiday period and has taken away several works by Dave for sale at the Gallery and online (click here to see the Colourfield Gallery page). Ed was very enthusiastic about the link between his gallery and the Trust, and took away some especially strong pieces of work (see picture, above, for a taster).

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Best wishes from the Dave Pearson Trust

Page from one of the 14 notebooks left by Dave Pearson that include his research on Calendar Customs.