Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A tidying

On Wednesday last week we hosted a small group from Bacup & Rawtenstall Grammar School, who visited the studio, watched Derek Smith's film, and who were given a guided tour. This, along with the recent decision to open the studio for the Rossendale Art Trail Open Studio weekend in October, encouraged us to spruce up the rooms and fill some of the empty wall spaces.

The upper photo shows the room where pieces are photographed and catalogued and then shelved before being returned to their places. The two photos below that are of the room which is now fully catalogued. The bottom two photos are of rooms we probably won't reach for some time....

...probably worth adding, too, that we now have a Dave Pearson board on Pinterest; so if anybody want a quick peek at a range of Dave's work it's all there. Currently with over 70 pictures.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


As I'm beginning to spend most Tuesday's at Dave's studio in Haslingden, I've found time to do some housework including rehanging in the very few areas of blank wall space that don't have paintings piled against them - such as the top floor corridor, above.

Ella, meanwhile continues the job of cataloguing the work - she's at number 7101 as I write! The present series is somewhere over 100 pastel drawings from the 'In the Seven Woods' series of the early 1980s. Another recent series, the pen and ink drawings Dave made to envisage how the huge 'Byzantium' series should be displayed, created a particular problem. The paintings are very large oil-painted panels, and Dave recreated these on varied sized sheets of paper:

The dilemma was whether to record each drawing as a single catalogue item - or as several individual sheets. In the page above it could be 8 individual sheets, for example. Or 6; or 4. Ella chose to record each as a single item - I think the way Dave intended.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

An interesting cache...

Before Ella can entirely complete the cataloguing process in the first room, there remains one folder of work. Ella had some doubts whether the work was by Dave so we had a good look at the contents. The first sheets were pastels and oil pastels by his mother, Lilian, that had been entered for the 'Hackney Annual Art Exhibition', and with gold date stickers for 1982 and 1983.

But further in we came to some unmistakeable Dave Pearson's - not in great condition, it has to be admitted. 

There were half a dozen or so oil pastels on canvas, from the 'Calendar Customs' series, and these needed removing from their deteriorating mounts and will, ultimately, require cleaning. There were also about 15 larger scratched card and black pastel drawings from 'In The Seven Woods', which will need fixing. All of course can now be catalogued.

Probably the nicest pieces were six small coloured drawings, again from 'Calendar Customs'. I'm planning to have these framed - as small paintings by Dave all rare items.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Catalogue

I will have written about the cataloguing process way back; probably 2 or 3 years ago now. So it's probably worth posting a short reminder as to how it actually works.

Ella does a couple of days' work each week, mainly adding to the catalogue. She (as I write) is at catalogue number 6670. When Ella started I had reached around about the 1500 mark, which took me best part of 2 years - but in just under 18 months she has added over 5000 pieces of Dave's work.

What we call 'the Catalogue' is actually a piece of software called 'Artlook'. The company who make it are based in Milton Keynes and if and when something goes awry (which it does once or twice a year) they are available, on the end of the phone or email, for friendly support. It's a very reasonably priced package, and we would certainly recommend it. It's PC-based, which to me is a slight problem as otherwise I work on Macs, but other than that it does everything it claims - and then some.

Ella takes a photograph of each piece of work and enters it into the system. These photographs are fairly low-res and a simple guide to the piece rather than the definitive visual record. The title, media, size, value, date and so on also get entered and the software automatically generates a catalogue number. Ella backs the data up every week.

Artlook software offers all kinds of other cataloguing possibilities - accounting, comments on condition, even an on-line shop if you want one. The catalogue is also very valuable in recording the sales we make of work - including the names and addresses of buyers. In  this way it has helped us create a database of people who are interested in Dave's work. It also enables us to print out invoices, certifications of ownership, and other important paper-work. 

However, on the whole, we use only a small proportion of the resources that Artlook has on offer. Even so, we're continually using the catalogue search facilities, and the ability to print off the financial and sales records save a great deal of time and trouble. Finally, being able to view thumbnails of the work by category, and click on these for a bigger image if necessary, is also a highly valuable tool - probably the only way we get to overview Dave's work visually - or at least that part of it (a third?) which, so far, has found its way on to the catalogue.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

2,000 more drawings...

Another regular Tuesday at Dave's old studio in Haslingden, working alongside Ella as she catalogues Dave's work. Ella has been doing this, we reckon, for one year and four months now, and we've reached number 6,398 in the catalogue of work.

When I first looked at this huge collection of work, immediately after Dave's death, I started counting the collection - it was necessary, among other things, to do this for the Estate probate. I stopped at around 14,000 when it became impossible to reach further into the decaying and unsafe rooms, and at this point I realised that, tucked away, there could be as many as 20,000 pieces of work. This somehow reached the news media (I think through a local news report) and there was an avalanche of superficial comment in the press about the situation, typically labelling Dave as an eccentric artist and suchlike.

Eventually, as the Trust got to grips with the situation and we began to clear up and return the work to the restored studio, I modified my estimate to there being around 15,000 pieces of work, ranging from small sketches to enormous triptychs on canvas painted in oil. 

Today I cleared a shelf that had a number of plastic-bound folders on it; folders I assumed would have photo-copied sheets or photographs in them. In fact 11 of them contained drawings - probably an average of 150 per folder. So I had uncovered another 1600 or so drawings. These all need to be catalogued, although we'll probably count each folder as simply one item, and just note the number of individual pieces of work inside. 

Then Ella laid out a pile of mixed drawings from the same shelf (photos above) - yet another 400 items. So in just one morning we've uncovered another 2000 pieces of work. My estimate of Dave's output here in the studio is beginning to return to the 20,000 mark!

There were also a number of pieces in yet another file that I'm finding hard to categorise. Are they a record of work done, or are they artwork's in their own right? Most of them are clearly based on local war memorials (such as the one in the park just over the road from Dave's studio), and incorporate poppy motifs. However they need to be catalogued or preserved, they form a stunning record (see below) of another strand of Dave Pearson's work:

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Newly hung

Just received an email with a few attached photographs of one of the paintings sold at the York exhibition. It's always nice to see where the paintings go to, and this particular example looks beautifully hung. The natural side-lighting from the window also enhances the texture of the three-dimensional collage that Dave used in the Calendar Customs and 7 Woods series. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Studio visits

It's now the second Tuesday spent, under my new regime, at Dave's studio in Haslingden. Ella has paid me a visit but she is otherwise taking the day out as an Easter holiday. Electricians have been in dealing with the connection which has, alarmingly, started bleeding a resin-like substance from the mains box. This has oozed all over the connection board. So, with the power off for best part of an hour, and the inevitable security alarm ringing unstoppably in response, it's been an eventful morning. 

We're going to experiment by offering Tuesday afternoons as a time when interested visitors can arrange for a visit and guided tour of the studio. So if anyone wishes to see Dave's work in its studio home, then please contact us via hb@compnet.co.uk and Ella or I will do our best to accommodate you. Ideally, we think, between midday and 4pm.