Sunday, 19 June 2016

Summer news..

Summer mode and the background heating at the studio can be turned off! Ella and I take our early holidays, and builders are called in to fix the badly slipping guttering at the back of 54 Manchester Road. 

Alongside this our plans are moving along - we're conscious that we now have added treasure in the form of the newly printed etching and drypoint plates that Alan Birch has been working on. Over the next few months I'll arrange to have a selection of these framed so we can present them as well as possible. Ella has already shown a selection of the proofs to the Goldmark Gallery and they are interested enough to follow this up, potentially with a visit to the studio.

Similarly, through contacts with Manchester Museums & Galleries, we've also had interest from the Turnpike in Leigh about mounting an exhibition. It's a big space and Dave showed his Byzantium work there in, I think, 1992. I remember that exhibition well, an enormously powerful show which we have a good photographic record of. The Turnpike has recently re-opened and it would be wonderful to have a second show there, 25 years later.

The photos above are taken from one of the drypoint plates resurrected by Alan Birch - this one is an unusual piece, and showing some of these prints is another thing we're working on. The According to McGee Gallery in York have been back in touch, about showing some work in the near future. Perhaps some of these are a possibility? In any case it looks as if the next few years could see a stirring of exhibition this space. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Etchings and drypoints brought back to life...

Today I went along with Ella Cole to Prospect Studios in Waterfoot to see the finished set of prints that master-printer Alan Birch had produced from Dave Pearson's old etching and drypoint plates. 

Alan has resurrected 29 large plates, mainly from the 'Calendar Customs' series that Dave did throughout the 1970s, and printed two of each one beautifully on good quality paper. They are truly stunning - above are details of a couple, and a photo of Ella and Alan going through the finished prints for my benefit. 

Next week Alan will bring them among to the Dave Pearson Trust in Haslingden, and we'll choose a selection to have framed. Then we'll need to think about exhibiting them. Last week I met Wendy Gallagher from the Whitworth Art Gallery, and she suggested a number of different options, including the Turnpike Gallery in Leigh - which despite being out of the city centre is a beautiful space and, interestingly, Dave chose to show his Byzantium paintings there in 1992 - so it would be a coming home of sorts. 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Encyclopaedia Series

As Ella Cole continues the epic task of cataloguing Dave Pearson's work, we have now exceeded 11000 pieces while recording the 'Encyclopaedia' series (see previous blog). These pieces number at least 200 sheets, each about 60 x 85 cms, and are of gouache and ink drawn and painted over series of photocopied adhesive sheets.

The majority of these works contain quotations from philosophers, politicians, writers and others. Dave frequently incorporates self-portraits among these, along with other drawings and a rich colouring; without obvious comment or reference to the written statements.

These works were done during Dave's last years, when he had totally filled up his studio spaces, and was too frail to continue to work on a larger scale. They have been in piles on plan chests in his studio until Ella got round to them for cataloguing. The inventiveness running throughout this series of work is impressive, as in everything Dave undertook. Having an opportunity to look more carefully at them is stimulating, and yet they are ultimately mysterious - I think that the combination of the texts and the seemingly unrelated imagery makes this so.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Number 11000!

Ella has been busy with her work at the Dave Pearson Trust - she has now moved from the top floor of the studio to the middle floor, and has just begun the process of cataloguing the works stored on that level.

I walked in the other day and she had just reached number 11000 in the cataloguing of  Dave Pearson's work. I couldn't resist taking a photo of the handwritten entry on the back of the painting. 

It's one of the large 'Encyclopaedia' series...when Dave was bedridden towards the end of his life he focused his energies on relatively small, manageable works on paper. This series used photocopied texts which he then worked over in a variety of media - gouache, pencil, ink - combined with self-portraits. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Dave Pearson on Pinterest

To see a great selection of some of Dave Pearson's work go to his page on Pinterest. It's at and there's a wide choice of great paintings, drawings and prints. You can follow the board if you wish to see new additions to the page, such as the large pastel drawing of the Minehead Hobby Hoss (above), and the graphite drawing from 'In the 7 Woods' (below).

The Pinterest page is maintained by the Dave Pearson Trust. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016


We visited Alan Birch in Prospect Studios again this morning. Alan has continued to proof nearly 60 of Dave Pearson's etching and drypoint plates. So Ella and I have been able to go through the whole selection and decide which ones for Alan to take to the next stage. 

The prints fall into two series. First steel plate etchings, nearly all of which are from the early 1970s series of Calendar Customs, that explore British traditional customs and place them in a formalised landscape setting. These are large (mostly about 70cms x 45cms), really attractive and highly detailed. We've asked Alan to take 15 of these and print up top copies.

The other main group, of which we've chosen 11 for Alan to print, is a looser, more expressionist set. Still fairly large, these are drypoint from the later 1970s, hand etched onto a soft metal (aluminium) plate. Many of them are a development in terms of subject matter from the 'Calendar Customs' series - still relating to traditional customs, though with a few interiors of his studio, and one simply of trees:

Our hope is that Alan will finish the next set, which will be printed on top quality paper with a good border all around, next month. I'll then start looking for interested galleries for an exhibition of the work. The Whitaker in Rawtenstall has already expressed an interest, and the whole process of rediscovering these plates should make for a very interesting exhibition, especially for anyone interested in printmaking. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Reviving Dave's prints

One of the very recent developments with Dave's work is that we have asked the printmaker Alan Birch to look at the etching and drypoint plates left by Dave and see whether any can be brought back to a usable state and, if so, select some for creating new editions from. 

Alan came to the studio and selected a good number of plates to work on. The process involves cleaning them of their dirt, ink, rust and other layers of material, and then making an assessment of whether the plate is in good enough condition to print from. If Alan believes that they are, he will then print a proof. 

This morning Ella and I went along to Alan's workshop at Prospect Studio in Waterfoot, and looked at four large plates that he had just taken proof copies from. They were all remarkable images, from the Calendar Customs series of the late 1970s, and in surprisingly good condition. In each case we were enthusiastic about Alan following this up by taking the process through to edition stage.

Above are some details of two if the plates. They're extremely beautiful images, and we're convinced that these are very collectable. We're also asking Alan to continue with the process; there are at least another 30 or 40 plates good enough to explore in this way.