Saturday, 26 December 2009

A Christmas lull

Despite the belief that some small jobs would continue, things have pretty much ground to a halt as I've spent the past week snowbound. Even walking down the road to the pub has become a mini-epic. Still, I did make a concerted effort on Wednesday to venture out and gather Christmas goodies.

After digging the car out a snow-drift, I called in at the studio to distribute various paintings that were being collected by their purchasers after the opening weekend. The walls of 54 are now almost empty, a sign of how much of Dave's work was sold over the weekend. I've been able to bank most of the money from those sales and it cannot be stressed enough just what a relief it is to have built up the Trust's financial reserves again just as things were looking like we would hit problems in 2010.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

iPM honours!

Sunday went well too - selling another 8 pieces. So the Trust now certainly has some financial security for the immediate future.

Quite unexpectedly the work on Dave's studio has been brought to the attention of the iPM New Years Honours people. Today I had the privilege of showing Nigel Wrench around 54 and talking to him about Dave's life and work and the story behind the restoration of the building. He was very enthusiastic about the project - and the work - and apparently this will be edited and broadcast on Radio 4 some time soon.

Over the holiday period I'll do a little more work, ferrying things from the store, but on the whole things will slow down after the last frantic few weeks. Margaret is now on holiday from her teaching work and can continue to work on the monograph.

As we approach the end of 2009 I think we can be very pleased with all that has been achieved.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


I opened the studio up from 12.30 until 5.00 pm today. Busy right from the doors opening until about 3.00 pm, after which there were only a couple of visitors. It seemed odd just sitting still after weeks of frantic activity; but also provided some time to contemplate the paintings which, perhaps oddly, there is never time to do when they're being moved around from store to studio.

We sold another eight pieces and I had time to consider the financial situation after the opening last night. It means, at the very least, that the pressure to immediately move from the storage unit has been relieved, and that the Trust can begin to pay the monthly rent and bills for the refurbished studio.

The next step must be to put aside some of the key pieces of Dave's work so that they remain with the Estate. Paintings and other works are being sold at a low price at the moment, and I want to make certain that the Trust retains a selection of the best work for a time when, I hope, the prices more truly reflect the quality of the work.

Opening Night

The studio on 54 Manchester Road finally opened last night!

At 6.20 pm we began to think that it might be the 6 of us - Kay, Sean, Margaret, Jackie, Julian and myself, oh and the drunk who lurched in off the street and eyed up our supply of hospitality wine, who spent yet another evening together. Nerves.

But no - by 7.30 there was a good crowd, and by 8 it was getting difficult to move around the house. I was busy most of the evening sorting out sales, which far exceeded my expectations. Everyone was totally enthused by the transformed building - what a good gallery it was; what an interesting and rather grand house! And Dave's work - the usual astonishment and the consistently high quality, the variety, and the sheer energy of it all.

Some of the rooms were hung as in a 'proper' art gallery, with numbered and priced pieces; other rooms were laid out informally - beginning to suggest their eventual function as store rooms once the rest of the work gets brought back out of storage. The photographs above show the entrance hall, and one of the 'casual' back rooms.

Thank you to everybody who made the effort to come last night - what a great and warm crowd, and particularly great to see Florence, Dave's daughter. Finally a big thank you to everyone who helped me and Kay get the building together. Certainly couldn't have done it without you!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Invitations - and work-in-progress

The invitations for the opening, re-opening, of Dave's old studio in Haslingden arrived from the printers today and I've started sending them out. It's only going to be open for one Friday evening (December 11th, 6.30 - 9.00 pm) and the afternoons of the following weekend.

The opening will be, in the main, for old friends of Daves, colleagues and collectors - but also for anyone interested in finding out what the Trust have been doing. The studio building is, as I write, still covered in dust (I am too) and the builders won't be out until next week. But excellent progress has been made, and its exactly this work-in-progress that I hope we'll celebrate in a few weeks time.

Some of Dave's work will be moved back to the studio - in fact as much as I can handle as we want to be rid of the burden of paying the monthly rent on the storage (plus the rates, water rates, and utility bill). There's promise of help these next few weeks from friends, so I'm very hopeful that the building will look good and be back in the business of housing Dave's paintings by the time we re-open.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Beginning to feel - exciting

The first of the rooms (above) to be completed and ready to receive Dave's work back from its stay in storage. Actually this is one of the smallest rooms in the studio and there's still a tremendous amount to be done. But with a deadline of December 11th now official, we've now got our work cut out - and a timetable to work to.

Today John Spedding and Ruth Evans helped myself and Kay, and how things moved so much faster! The floor upstairs is now just about finished being painted, and John made progress in painting the toilet cupboards and skirtings.

I went to the printers today and passed over the artwork for the invitation (hence the deadline, now confirmed). Next week the text for the monograph will arrive from Margaret, and I'll pass that on for printing in its turn. I would say that - it's beginning to get exciting!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A new van

I bought the second-hand van. Now I can move Dave's work when it suits me - or at least everything but the 12 metres (I measured them end on) worth of large paintings .

This because it won't be long before the building work is completed and we can start moving things back in. Next week I'll start putting shelving up; and Kay will help me paint the woodwork. In a couple of weeks we should have full access to the building and then preparations for an opening of the refurbished studio will start in earnest.

We're planning Friday 11th December to open with drinks and a small exhibition for friends, colleagues and collectors of Dave's work.

Friday, 30 October 2009

A new home

I went to look at the studio yesterday and Mark the builder showed me around. The rooms are in the process of being painted, and the skirting boards and details fixed back in place. The building has been totally transformed - it is almost unrecognisable from the shambolic and slightly depressing place that we vacated in the summer. In a couple of weeks I should be able to start putting in some shelving, and a week after that begin the process of bringing the work back to its new home.

Today I spent some hours in the storage unit, beginning to plan for this eventuality. I've decided to buy a van, which will help move some of the work, if not the very biggest pieces. I looked at the piles of paintings and reliefs and started thinking about how to move them back; in what order; and where to store them. Margaret did a brilliant job of sorting the work out into different sizes, so it should be a more orderly process returning them than it was dragging them out of the studio.

I also need to think about an opening event for the refurbished studio, and that will be part of the planning work I need to do this next week or so. My guess is that we are on schedule to open in mid-December - a small event for friends, helpers, colleagues and patrons.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Moving forwards

The photograph above is taken from the same place as the one in the 18th August blog. This is the landing at the top floor of Dave's old studio. It shows the walls are now fully plastered and the light fittings ready to go in. You can see that we've removed a door frame and opened out the space. What has to be done now, in addition to putting in the lamps, is painting the walls and general tidying.

Although it may not seem spectacular it needs to be remembered that these walls, and some of the ceiling beams by the window, were riddled with dry rot and this has also had to be dealt with.

So, not bad - but the building work has slowed down in the past couple of weeks as the electrical work and the damp proofing has taken place. We now expect progress on the finishing, painting and flooring. My hope is that by the end of November I can begin my own work, installing shelves and racks, and doing the gloss paint work. Volunteers needed!

Then, and only then, can we begin the process of bringing Dave's painting back home out of storage. An event we'll mark with a party and a sale.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Gradually, gradually....

I visited the studio today to look at progress by the builders. The electrics are half way there; the plastering just about finished; damp-proof going in...

The open plan top floor is taking shape nicely, so there will be additional storage room - though the fact it's at the top of the house limits taking the largest pictures up.

Soon we'll have to start planning the move back. I imagine this will start at the end of November, and there's still a hope that we can have a small-scale 'opening' before Christmas. It depends on a lot of things falling into place, but it remains my intention.

Saturday, 12 September 2009


Apologies for another long gap in my posts. It's been holiday time apart from anything else, and as far as the studio goes the builders have been continuing their work on the refurbishment.

The dry-rot has now been treated and where necessary timbers have been replaced. This has involved some parts of the roof, but in the main it's been the entire floor surface of the large ground-floor room, and the first floor room that would (in a normal house) have been designated as the bathroom. Currently re-plastering is being done; to be followed by re-wiring and finally by a complete tidying and treating of all walls, woodwork and ceilings and painting.

The builders, to my relief, have stuck close to their estimated costs, and as the scale of the work and cost has become more apparent I've had the confidence to ask for other small jobs to be taken on that will improve the final look and usefulness of the building.

The plan now, agreed at a Trust meeting last week, is to aim to start moving the work back in November, although in a slower and more controlled way than it left. In mid-December we hope to have a special opening and viewing of the place. We'll use this as an opportunity to raise more funds for the Trust as the bank balance is beginning to dip, but it'll also be an opportunity to celebrate the enormous task that has been undertaken in rescuing both Dave's work and his old studio.

Some work has been on-going in this direction too. Julian of the See Gallery has helped create the first limited edition print of Dave's work - The Wall (at the top of this post), which proved very popular at the See exhibition. This has taken longer than any of us expected, but Julian has insisted we achieved the highest possible quality print and, after many trials, we are only now happy with the result. We are now able to sell this edition of 40 to raise funds for the Trust.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Work starts on restoring the old studio

On coming back from a fortnights holiday in Italy I tentatively opened up Dave's old studio in Haslingden to see if anything had happened during my absence. I never should have doubted the builders - the place has been stripped of all the rotten plasterwork and upstairs (see photographs) the room is now open to the roof-timbers. It suddenly looks like a quite manageable job. I'm suddenly very conscious of what a big house it is...

In the meantime Margaret has been busy and found 5 plan-chests (donated by Manchester Metropolitan University, where Dave had worked for many years) that will be a godsend when we start the process of returning the work back to the studio from its storage. Speaking of which, I was surprised to find that business rates (totaling nearly £1000) need to be paid for the storage unit. This is a bit of a blow as Trust funds are running low, although there does appear to be an appeals procedure and the possibility of offsetting this additional rates with a reduction from the rates already paid on the empty building. Meanwhile, it means - paperwork.

On Friday I've arranged to visit the builders again; pay a second installment of their fee, and discuss some ideas I've had about improving the storage capacity of the building as well as getting a clearer picture of what the costs will be now that the full extent of the dry rot has been uncovered.

Friday, 17 July 2009

By the end of the third day...

Job done; though there's still a little rubbish to be cleaned out of the old studio. The builders came for a final check, and I gave them the go ahead to start work.

It's two days short of a year since Dave Pearson died. In that time we've set up a trust; raised money from sales to cover moving the work out of the studio; and now started work on restoration of the building.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Moving the paintings- day two

The photograph shows part of the storage space at Albion Mill, where we've just finished the first two days of moving everything from Dave Pearson's studio in Haslingden. It also gives an insight into just how much work Dave has left, and the scale of it.

Margaret Mytton is organising the Albion Mill end of the operation; trying hard and against all odds to divvy up the work into similar shaped and sized canvases in order to store them safely. Chris Pearson is supervising the studio end of the operation. I'm driving - so far there has been 9 luton van loads. We're all being helped and supported by a team of great helpers who have made the job thus far possible - Paul, Sue, Ro, Col, Rich, Nathan, Julian, Kay, Barbara, Shaun and Roseanne.

Tomorrow is the last day that we've put aside for the job. The hire van goes back Friday morning, so we've got to clear the space. Although 80% of the bulk has already been moved, what's left are the smaller, fiddly things, plus hundreds - thousands probably - of large drawings. These will be hard to carry and load, so tomorrow will be a tough day.

I heard from the solicitor yesterday that the transfer of the building had been completed, so the next step - after tomorrow - is to get all the restoration work started; meaning the builders can move in.

Friday, 10 July 2009

The keys arrive

Today I went and collected the keys for the storage unit. Next week we're spending three days moving everything out of Dave's old studio. It'll be an epic task.

But then we're able to turn a major corner. I can get the dry-rot treated; repair the woodwork; do a basic re-wiring; and tidy and paint the place. Then we'll move back the work in.

I think I'll also take possession of the studio this week. Meaning I've bought it from Chris, Dave's son, and I'll be able to rent it back to the Trust. It feels like we've moved a long, long way - and its just a year since Dave died.

Friday, 26 June 2009

A turning point

Anyone following this blog will be forgiven for thinking that it had gone cold. The truth is that I've been waiting for a number of key things to happen, all to do with solving our biggest immediate problems; namely, the issue of what to do with the studio, its dry rot infestation, and the storage of Dave's paintings in the meantime. Up until recently this has all been in the hands of solicitors.
Until two hours ago. I've just returned from a series of meetings around Rossendale that have achieved the things necessary to move forward on each front. First, I've put the payment down for the purchase of Dave Pearson's studio. The sale should now be completed by the end of the month, or very shortly afterwards. I then met a building company who looked over the studio with an eye to quoting me for dealing with the dry-rot and any repairing and replacing any associated work such as flooring and plastering. Best of all they were able to start this work soon. A word of warning - I still need to see their quote for the work.
Finally I went to B & E Boys and put down the deposit and paid two months rent for a store to hold all of Dave's work while the building work gets done.
So - great joy! The picture above, by the way, is a typical view inside the studio. There are nine rooms, some larger than others, packed with paintings large and small, drawings and reliefs, as well as plan chests and shelves groaning with work.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Open Studio weekend

The weekend was really successful, with almost 200 people visiting the Boo to see Dave's paintings, and all the other studios and galleries reported the same thing. The feedback was unanimously positive, with people travelling to Rossendale from Manchester, Preston, Liverpool, Blackpool and so on. Usually the flow is in the other direction. 

Dave's paintings looked beautiful in the Boo's big cavernous space. There were 6 very large paintings, each nearly 2 metres high by 2.5 metres (for example 'Table Painting 1, above). These dominated the space and drew a lot of attention. One person came back the second day as they had made such an impact on him. Others drew comparison with Wilfredo Lam, or Outsider Art, but the recurring comment was that these paintings need to be in major galleries; that they were masterly and how astonishing it was to come across work of this stature from an unknown artist. We also showed three reliefs of from Calendar Customs, and a smaller oil painting as well as a few gouaches framed and unframed. 

Friday, 5 June 2009

New paintings on show

It has been a ridiculously busy day but the end result is a show at the Boo, in Waterfoot, Rossendale, for Open Studio weekend, containing several of Dave's large oil paintings. These have rarely been shown and look fabulous in the space. 

In Dave's studio it's almost impossible to see them as things are so cramped. But here, in the relatively spacious surround of the Boo, you can step back and take in the colours and details. For a few I've had to make an inspired guess that they are the right way up. 

I'm hoping the weekend is a success - which ultimately means well attended. All of the artist's studios in Rossendale have put a lot of effort into making this a special group event, so it's fingers crossed. At the Boo show, although it's an opportunity to see some of the larger paintings, there's also a few medium sized reliefs and oils, as well as really affordable gouaches, both framed and unframed. Don't hesitate - come along! There's free refreshments too....

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Reveal Open Studios weekend

Things seem to be moving slowly - the sale of the studio is 'with the solicitor', so it still feels slightly premature to be calling in quotes to treat the dry-rot and generally improve the condition of the building in readiness for it becoming a suitable place to store Dave's work.

However, things are still moving forward - next week I'll visit a storage unit that I hope will hold the bigger paintings whilst the work is being done on Dave's Haslingden studio, and next weekend (Sat/Sun 6th/7th June) we're participating in REVEAL - an Open Studios weekend also including four of the artists' studios in Rossendale plus the See Gallery. This will be an opportunity to show a small selection of Dave's larger paintings. The auction of work and exhibition at the See were almost entirely of smaller pieces, so it will be good to see some of the larger work in the spacious hall of the Boo in Waterfoot. It will also be a great opportunity to visit the Rossendale artist studios, which house some of the most interesting artists working in the region. The Boo is a good starting point where you can see Dave Pearson's work and pick up a leaflet and map of the other studio and gallery locations.

For more details of Reveal you can to:

and find a map and complete programme for the weekend.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Authentication - the best way?

We've had another request to provide a certificate for one of Dave's pieces of work that was sold at the recent exhibition at the See Gallery. As I mentioned a few blogs ago, I've designed a form that the Trust issues to prove the provenance of the work, so dealing with this particular request is no particular problem.

I think this is an interesting issue. Up until taking on responsibility for Dave Pearson's work I had really thought that whether a painter signs their work or not was simply a matter of personal preference or style, but dealing with the estate I now see the other side of the equation. Dave signed very few of his pieces. Those he has signed are usually pieces that had been exhibited, which are relatively few. I wonder if anyone else has had a similar issue to deal with, and how they resolved it. At the moment our Certificate of Authentication is an A4 sheet of paper signed by one of the three members of the Trust and also gives details about the title, media, size etc of the piece.  I've heard of a stamp being used. Any one out there with experience of this? 

Sunday, 10 May 2009

New and old homes

Spent the weekend moving Dave's paintings. Yesterday we took  a large panel from the Byzantium series to Kendal in the Lake District, to a buyer who had seen the painting at the exhibition at the See Gallery. It was a tall, thin painting - unusual, but it fitted the space at the bottom of her stairwell perfectly. Something rather special about seeing a piece of work moving from the unvisited studio and starting a new life with someone who loves and appreciates it.

Then today I moved the remaining paintings and other work from the See back to the old studio. So that episode is over. It has served us well, both marking and supporting the formation of the Trust. Although we would like to see another exhibition of Dave's work soon, it's inevitable that our efforts will now be focused in sorting out the studio.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The long break between these blogs has been, in part, because we've been making arrangements to purchase Dave's studio from Chris Pearson. This has meant, of course, finding the money to make the purchase; agreeing on the price; and setting up the process with a solicitor. Now these crucial steps have taken place they're easier to write about here. This is a major development for the Dave Pearson Trust which, after the sale has taken place, will lease the studio back at a rent which covers rates, insurance and heat and light. 

Our timetable now is for the purchase to take place asap - hopefully by the end of June; then the artwork to be moved into temporary storage whilst builders move in to deal with the dry-rot, and then the basic building works that are required such as re-wiring, plastering and painting. Our aim is to have this sorted by October, when the work can be returned to the studio and properly ordered. 

So, now we're able to look back 9 months after Dave's death at some considerable achievements:  
  • The setting up of a Dave Pearson Trust
  • Setting up a website for the Trust
  • Raising money for the Trust from an auction and a successful exhibition
  • Starting the process of cataloguing Dave's work
  • Buying the studio in order to establish a proper archive for the work.
That we've been able to achieve so much in such a short time is due in part because of the help we've received from a large number of people and businesses; from the local artists who were Dave's friends at Globe Arts and other local artist studios, from Julian and Jackie at the See Gallery for their support and encouragement; and from Dave's friends and family who have supported us at the auction and exhibitions.    

On behalf of the three trustees - thank you everybody for all of your help and support.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Storage Pt2

Yesterday we went to see the top floor of Albion Mill that B&E Boys has offered us as free storage for Dave's work while we refurbish the studio. Plenty of space - it's the old Albion extension of Globe Arts which originally housed several painters studios. The lift is small and the larger paintings will have to be carried up the stairs. And that's where the problem lies. The stairs are wide, but the ceiling in places is very low; combined with the fact that the lowest points coincide with the turns on the stairwell. Frustrating as otherwise the Mill would be a perfect solution to our storage problem as it is both dry and spacious. 

I've also designed a 'Certificate of Authentication'. Dave signed very few pieces of work and now we're selling some of the buyers are concerned to have evidence that their purchase is an original. So we, the Dave Pearson Trust, will provide these forms to demonstrate the provenance of the artwork. 

Saturday, 11 April 2009


The issue of storing Dave's artwork while the studio is restored to good condition is now our single biggest priority. Margaret went to Albion Mill and looked at the storage space kindly offered us by Brian and Michael Boys. She says it's a good space; certainly large enough and on the whole dry. The only problem is access as the lift is small, and the storage area on the second floor. Nevertheless it's clearly a potential solution and, so long as we can get a team of at least 5 people to help with a move, quite do-able.  I've promised to cost out more conventional solutions and also look at a nearby shop premises which has been advertised as a let for some time. Then we'll get together and make a final decision. Clearly it would be sensible to do this, and to plan to move back into the studio before next winter arrives.

The exhibition at the See Gallery is now over. The unsold work is in storage there, but I'll have to arrange to bring it all back soon. Julian and Jackie still have the large 'Asylum' relief hanging in the garage/gallery over the road from their main space - so it is still possible for a visitor to see something of the work in a good space. 

Saturday, 4 April 2009


Yesterday the three trustees of the Dave Pearson Trust - me, Margaret and Chris - met to review things. The exhibition also ended yesterday and we know we have raised perhaps another £5K for the Trust. We agreed that things have gone extremely well for us, and we have been able to pay the rates on the studio; pay for the website and domain name; and pay off all the small bills that have accrued since Dave's death, including the solicitor. We also have enough in the bank account to pay for storage whilst the studio is renovated.

Chris will sell the studio, but the arrangement will mean that we can lease it back and thus it can remain as the main store of Dave's artwork for the immediate future. But before that can happen the building will need to be gutted, and the dry rot treated; woodwork made good; rewiring and plastering done. In other words - an awful lot of work. So the three of us will now concentrate on looking at what storage options are open to us. We've had a generous offer of free storage from a local business, B & E Boys, who have a long tradition of supporting painters locally. But this offer is for the top floor of a mill several miles away, so we need to investigate if there are any other options. Much of the work to be stored are the larger canvases and getting these to the top floor of a mill will be a struggle.

I've also been involved in the planning of an Open Studio weekend which involves all the local artists studios. The Boo will host an exhibition of some of Dave's larger paintings. This will be the weekend of the 6th and 7th of June - and provides another opportunity to keep Dave's work visible.


Sunday, 29 March 2009

Just a few days more...

There's now just a few days left to visit the See Gallery and catch the Dave Pearson exhibition. It's been changed around as things have been sold since the opening, so even if you saw it early on it's worth another visit. On Friday it closes. The experience of the exhibition has been a very good one, and in the past few days I've been able to meet, at the See, several people from arts organisations and galleries who may well prove valuable contacts in the future.

We've sold a good number of pieces, and I'll reckon up with Julian and Jackie this week. The result will be to improve the bank balance for the Dave Pearson Trust - not before time since the business tax on the studio now needs to be paid. A bigger decision will also have to be made soon about the future of the building. We've had a surveyor checking the property over and the result suggests that although the building is structurally sound there are plenty of problems that need remedial work before it can be put into use as storage for the artwork. I can raise money to purchase the building but a price needs to be agreed with Chris Pearson who owns it. Inevitably there's a gap between the estimated value quoted by our surveyor in his report and that suggested to Chris by the estate agents. This needs to be resolved, and I expect we'll meet soon to discuss the issue.

Whatever the outcome the artwork will have to be moved to other storage place whilst repairs are made to the studio. The Trust will have to pay for this and storage doesn't come cheap, so we'll need to build up our financial reserves while we can.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Taking stock

With the exhibition of Dave Pearson's work at the See Gallery having less than two weeks left to run it's a good time to take stock and see what we've achieved in managing the estate since his death in July last year.

1. The Legal Stuff. 

We've formed The Dave Pearson Trust. This involved Chris Pearson handing over control of the artwork to the Trust; and the three trustees are myself, Chris and Margaret Mytton. Any decisions about the work are now made by unanimous agreement of the trustees. The process cost us just over £500 in legal fees.

2. Financial.

The Trust now has a bank account. The Cooperative Bank accepted us as a Community Direct client; a business account with access to on-line banking. The process took about a month from filling in the forms to receiving all the paying-in and cheque books. The Coop has been extremely good to deal with - helpful and efficient. We have raised over £8,000 from exhibitions and the auction (see below), and this has enabled us to pay for immediate costs such as legal fees and the website.

3. Legacy.

We always knew that this will be a long and on-going process. Dave received a major obituary in 'The Guardian', and his colleagues and friends have been enthusiastic in helping us promote his work. We held an auction of work for friends of Dave to buy something relatively cheaply, and also raise money for the Trust. Meeting Julian and Jackie from the See Gallery has been a particular stroke of good fortune, and they have worked with us not only to show a selection of Dave's work, but also to raise awareness of his legacy by inviting others to see a small part of the work in the context of an exhibition. We are hopeful that his process may lead to further showings of the work. 

Margaret is writing a monograph on Dave's work and life, which we expect to publish on its completion. We have also started a website, and by cataloguing the work we are creating a database and putting things in order, and by doing this we will be better placed to handle future developments. This, I stress, is going to be a long process - of the 15,000 or so pieces left by Dave just 500 have, so far, been entered into the catalogue.

4. Storage.

This is now our biggest single problem. We've already thrown away well over three large skips full of rubbish, but the studio is in a bad state, with dry rot being the most immediate of many issues. We've removed the work from the source of the rot but now need to deal with it urgently. Some of the work is at the house, which is a 100 yards away from the studio, but storage needs to be found for the remainder (6 rooms worth) while building work goes on at the studio. The future of the studio itself is an issue and we are considering whether it can be sold to raise money for Chris, and if so what alternative storage options are there?


We've achieved a lot in 8 months, but there's a lot - an awful lot - still to be done. The process has been interesting, to say the least, and its brought me back in contact with many people I hadn't seen for many years, notably Florence Pearson, as well as finding new friends who are helping us on our way. In all of this the goodwill and enthusiasm shown by everyone for Dave's work has been consistent and heartfelt and helped us overcome any doubts we may have harboured.  

Friday, 13 March 2009

A bank account

I’ve been busy this week with other work but last weekend I tidied up all the paperwork left from the auction. Artlook is very useful, printing out automatic receipts and lists and balances, so double checking the income was relatively easy. The Trust bank account has now been opened at the Co-op Bank (very helpful and professional), and although the cheque book hasn’t arrived I’ve at least been able to bank the money.

A couple of days ago we had a surveyor inspect the studio and I’m awaiting a report on the soundness of the structure. From that we’ll make a final decision as to what to do with the building in the long term. It’s already clear that treating the dry rot can’t wait much longer, and Chris is keen to sell the building in order to raise much needed money to spend on the house. Dave’s immersion in his work undoubtedly meant that he neglected other things, including his house and studio. But with no studio we’ll have a major storage problem – decisions on these things will be our next step.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The dust settles

The exhibition has continued to go well – certainly in the sense of visitors, good feedback, and a number of sales. At the weekend Julian and Jackie (of the See Gallery) asked me to bring over some more paintings as it was becoming clear exactly what was arousing most interest from visitors. It paid off; two pieces were sold before they are even got to be hung on the walls. This is part of the purpose of the exhibition - to find out how best to present the work, and what pieces are proving interesting to buyers.

The photograph above is from the auction. It shows, from the left, John (the auctioneer) and Ruth, with Margaret Mytton and Chris Pearson.

Now these events are over (the auction) and under control (the exhibition), we need to look to the next step. The issue of the dry-rot in the studio has not, of course, gone away and we need to think urgently about storage of the work so we that can ask contractors in to deal with the problem. We also need to use the remaining month of the exhibition to widen interest in Dave’s work, attracting other galleries and collectors.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

An auction - and an exhibition

Yesterday was an important step for the Dave Pearson Trust. Firstly the auction was very successful, and we raised several thousand pound to start off the bank account for the Trust and so we now have some capital with which to pay the bills we’ve accumulated (the website, some frames etc) and to begin to plan for the future.

The viewing days were well attended, including many who weren’t able to get to the auction itself but wanted to see the work. A few tears were shed; in particular by ex-students who remembered Dave’s influence on them. I heard so many odd and typical and unexpected stories and anecdotes. For me it was a privileged time, looking at the paintings and drawings, listening to music, and meeting people who had been touched by Dave. About 40 people came to the auction, of which nearly 30 were bidding for work. I had hoped to raise £3000, and we comfortably exceeded this.

Then on to the exhibition at the See Gallery. Julian had got carried away the previous days and we added extra pieces to the show – large panels from the Byzantium series that went into the kitchen/reception/living room, and a vast and very heavy relief from the early 70s – Asylum 2, plus a blue papier-mache figure ‘On the Edge of Infinity’ (I think that was Vincent’s title). The show looked great, and we drunk wine and enjoyed the music, the atmosphere and the conversation. The gallery began to sell too, and by the end of the evening Julian and Jackie seemed very happy with things.

Chris and Florence, Dave’s son and daughter, were at both events, as well as many colleagues and ex-students of Dave’s from MMU. For me a very enjoyable day – almost like a Horse + Bamboo event but without the anxiety, as Jonny pointed out, of having your own creative head on the block.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Ready to go

We've been very busy the past few days. Firstly the exhibition at the See has been hung and invitations to the opening on Wednesday evening have been sent out. It looks good - about 40 pieces of work, beautifully hung by Julian.

Then the Boo (the Horse + Bamboo Theatrespace) has been prepared for the auction we're holding, again on Wednesday, to raise money for the Trust. Margaret and I worked the whole day yesterday to lay-out the 70-odd pieces of work that are being auctioned, with appropriate numbering systems so the auction goes smoothly and things don't get misplaced in any confusion. Our biggest worry now is that the turn out will be disappointing. Margaret has contacted hundreds of Dave's colleagues and friends, but getting to a mid-week afternoon event in a small Lancashire town may put many off. Ideally I hope about 50 people turn up, and less than 20 will be a disappointment.

One thing the auction and exhibition have in common is that they both contain a wide range of Dave's work from the late 1960s to the last few years. It struck me that Dave would normally exhibit only his latest work so it's an unfamiliar experience to see work from different periods hanging together. Interesting, but not unexpected, to see the variety and range, but also interesting to see continuities and formal gestures repeated. Margaret noted the odd and mysterious space in many of the pieces. It made me want to see a full and properly ordered retrospective of his output.

Saturday, 14 February 2009


Delivered 40 plus paintings to the See Gallery yesterday, and made final arrangements for the exhibition of Dave’s work. We agreed that we would open the exhibition on the same day as the auction so anyone travelling a long distance to the one can easily visit the other. Makes sense, but Margaret has already mailed out she says ‘hundreds and hundreds’ of invites with the old date on (Friday 20th Feb) so she will now need to circulate something announcing the change to Wednesday 25th.

Setting a price on the work is – as always - difficult. As someone who sold very little during his lifetime (he didn’t really make much effort to) there isn’t a template to fall back on. Do you set the prices low and risk devaluing the work, or high and risk not selling? The classic market dilemma – but complicated by how price may be related to reputation. Will the galleries we would like to see representing Dave’s work be put off by ‘wrong’ pricing? I would hope that the quality of the work would be the important factor, but I somehow doubt that is always the case.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Settlors and Beneficiaries

The meeting with Chris and Margaret was good. We discussed Chris’s idea to solve the storage issue (an outhouse) and agreed that he should cost it out. We also had the draft Trust constitution from the solicitor and looked at it together. Afterwards we telephoned to set a day to meet with the solicitor and finalise the constitution. Then the way will be clear to submit the documents to the bank and open a bank account in the name of the Dave Pearson Trust. It would be nice if this could be done by the date of the auction.

One of the items for discussion was how Chris would word the trust documents. He is the ‘Settlor’, the person who currently owns the artwork. He will name other potential ‘Beneficiaries’ and needs to agree on this before the final document is drawn up. Chris has a sister, Florence, who has lived most of her life apart from the family. The circumstances around the illness of her parents finally brought Florence back to the family, and she met Chris not long before Dave’s death after a long, long separation. I remember both Chris and Florence when I was a student and occasionally did their baby-sitting. The long period of separation must have been painful for everyone concerned, and Chris is now clearly anxious to develop a close and warm relationship with the sister he has rediscovered after such a long parting.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


It’s easy to write these entries and wonder just who is out there at the other end – if anybody. I started this blog because I didn’t know where to turn when Dave died and the enormity of the task began to sink in. Wills, probate, taxes, executors, trusts, solicitors – there’s a lot of stuff to consider quite apart from the direct business of dealing with paintings. If just one person benefits from reading about our experiences then I thought it would be worthwhile.

In fact, over the past week I’ve heard from an old friend (from 30 years ago) who has recently found themselves in a similar situation with the estate of a close relative, a sculptor. There’s also been contact with ex-students of Dave’s, as well as the support I’ve already written about from galleries and artist friends who shared studio space with him. So clearly there are people out there.

Tomorrow Margaret and I will sort through the studio to select paintings for the See Gallery exhibition. I'll hire a van and will take them to the gallery on Friday. Chris has an idea about storing the work, so we'll meet up and see what he has to say. On the phone he described it as a 'Eureka' moment.....let's hope so.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


One of the pleasures of being in this situation is the opportunity to sit and enjoy looking at Dave’s artwork.

When Dave died my first thought was to do a quick inventory of his work simply to discover what we were dealing with. It wasn’t easy because the paintings, drawings, sketchbooks are piled into the rooms of the studio and a lot is unreachable without moving other work and there simply isn’t any space left to move things to. Plus the work was all mixed up with art materials, books, research notes, medications, old papers, dust… Anyway it took me a couple of months to log what I could. I listed nearly 15,000 pieces of artwork but I hardly looked at any of them as it was simply a matter of counting, noting the medium, and taking a measurement.

But now I’m going through things slowly, photographing and adding them to the Artlook inventory. Most of them I'm able to take home and note them in comfort. I’m logging their condition as well as size and medium. I have to touch each one, and look at it. Some recall the period I stayed with Dave and bring back memories; some are completely new to me and fill in gaps in my knowledge of his life and work. Many are just sketches and scribbles but a surprising number are substantial and impressive and exciting. Look and touch these and the worries about dry rot and storage fade away.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

An auction - and an exhibition!

I met with Julian (of the See Gallery) last weekend and he discussed the idea of an exhibition of Dave's work at their gallery to coincide with our auction. At first I wondered if these events would compete with one another but, on reflection, it felt that so long as the material in the exhibition was chosen to complement that in the auction it would be a wonderful opportunity to show a wider range of Dave's work.

There's absolutely no shortage of artwork, and we could easily show paintings at the See as the auction will largely be of works on paper. Julian and Jackie stressed that they would like to offer the Trust an opportunity to show Dave's work to other parties - dealers, galleries and so on. This is extremely generous of them and we're very grateful to their commitment to help us in developing Dave Pearson's legacy. This whole process has reminded me of the great goodwill in our local community of artists, painters and their supporters.

So, today I've made a final selection of work to auction. This won't be until February 25th but I now need to leave plenty of time to sort out paintings for the exhibition at the See. Next week I'll discuss the details of publicising the exhibition with Julian, while Margaret has been busy this week sending out information about the auction to Dave's friends and colleagues .

With all of this going on it's easy to forget the problems of storage and the dry-rot in the studio. But Chris Pearson has been focusing on this issue. Its not going to go away - before long we have some very difficult decisions to make. In the meantime I'm also in the process of setting up a bank account for the Dave Pearson Trust so once the solicitors have done their bit we're ready to act immediately....and by act I mean have, we hope, money to bank for the Trust as a result of a successful auction.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Planning an auction of work

This weekend we’re meeting to plan the auction that will take place at the Boo in Waterfoot in 3 weeks time. The idea is to combine giving an opportunity for Dave’s friends and colleagues to buy some of his work with raising money for the Dave Pearson Trust, which will look after his work and legacy.

John Spedding, one of Dave’s colleagues at Globe Art Studios will take the role of auctioneer. We need to work out the logistics of bidding and selling efficiently, as well as taking payments and giving receipts and such like. I’ve already selected about 60 pieces for the auction – a representative selection of prints, drawings and small paintings. The final choice will be to add another 10 or so pieces, probably slightly larger paintings, to make a really good range of work for the auction. We thought that 70 pieces would be enough, given that we don’t want the event to run longer than 90 minutes or so.

I’ll also be going over to the See Gallery to collect Dave’s paintings from their Christmas exhibition, which has now closed. Plus, I hope, a cheque for the work sold. Julian, from the See, telephoned last week to discuss the possibility of a small show of Dave’s work to coincide with the auction. It would be good to have an opportunity to see some of his larger pieces as well as the smaller work in the auction.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Jobs being done...

So, to summarise the main things we’ve done, or are doing, to help with the Estate:

a) Creating an inventory of Dave’s work. This is being done on Artlook software, and categorises every piece by its medium, gives a catalogue number, defines its condition and size, as well as including a photographic reference both as a thumbnail and a higher quality image. Of course, in the best of all worlds a painter would do something like this during their lifetime and bequeath their estate a catalogued inventory. I don’t think that happens very often.

b) Started the process of setting up a Trust. This means handing direct responsibility for the work to the Trust. The benefactor remains Dave’s son, but responsibility is shared by the trustees. This ensures a professional approach to managing the work and the process of protecting and advancing his reputation. There are a number of models for such Trusts and anybody interested in this approach should get legal advice.

c) I’ve created a website – to show a selection of Dave’s work and contain some information about his life. This is not a place for selling the work, but a point of reference for anybody interested in finding out more.

d) We’re holding an auction of a selection of Dave’s work to raise money for the Trust. It’s mainly for Dave’s friends and colleagues, many of whom we believe would like to have a piece of his work. The money raised will pay for the website and domain name, for framing some of the work, and for helping with storage and the problems with the condition of the studio (see below).

e) Begun the process of writing a monograph on Dave’s life and work.

f) We’ve started looking at agents and galleries who could help us in this work. This is very much an on-going process.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Starting out...

Since Christmas we’ve formalised the agreement to set up the Dave Pearson Trust. Reading ‘Artists Estates: Reputations in Trust' by Magda Salvesen continues to be an inspiration. Several key things emerge in beginning the process of establishing an artist’s work. First, of course, it has to be genuinely interesting. Dave wasn’t well known – among his colleagues at Manchester University, at Globe Artist Studios, and among his students he had a wonderful reputation, but he never worked to interest dealers and galleries. As a result he died with the vast bulk of his work intact. This, surprisingly, is good news as there’s everything to play for.

Secondly dealers and galleries would prefer to deal with a Trust than with individual family members, as it legitimizes the process and militates against different heirs appearing with work for sale. Thirdly it’s vital to catalogue the work properly, so it’s managed well and, again, dealers can see a sense of order and discipline behind the estate management. Finally it’s useful to build up print and publications about the work.

Margaret has agreed to start preparing a monograph about Dave. Basically it means methodically tracing the development of the work, the influences, and what was going on around, and preparing it as a publication. Margaret estimates this will take her up to year to complete.

As for cataloguing the material I quickly discovered software that enables this to be done efficiently. There are several different packages on the market and I tried a few out. In the end I chose Artlook ( largely because it has been developed in the UK and thus its defaults are in £ rather than $, and is set up for a British tax regime. It’s very reasonably priced and the support seems very good. So far I’ve found it to be perfect for the job, and I’m really pleased that I discovered it before starting the process long-hand.

We’ve also been able to test things locally by exhibiting at the See Gallery, where Julian and Jackie have been very helpful. Their current mixed Christmas exhibition closes next weekend but we have, so far, sold several pieces by Dave.

Beginning the work

Since Christmas we’ve formalised the agreement to set up the Dave Pearson Trust. Reading ‘Artists Estates: Reputations in Trust' by Magda Salvesen continues to be an inspiration. Several key things emerge in beginning the process of establishing an artist’s work. First, of course, it has to be genuinely interesting. Dave wasn’t well known – among his colleagues at Manchester University, at Globe Artist Studios, and among his students he had a wonderful reputation, but he never worked to interest dealers and galleries. As a result he died with the vast bulk of his work intact. This, surprisingly, is good news as there’s everything to play for.

Secondly dealers and galleries would prefer to deal with a Trust than with individual family members, as it legitimizes the process and militates against different heirs appearing with work for sale. Thirdly it’s vital to catalogue the work properly, so it’s managed well and, again, dealers can see a sense of order and discipline behind the estate management. Finally it’s useful to build up print and publications about the work.

Margaret has agreed to start preparing a monograph about Dave. Basically it means methodically tracing the development of the work, the influences, and what was going on around, and preparing it as a publication. Margaret estimates this will take her up to year to complete.

As for cataloguing the material I quickly discovered software that enables this to be done efficiently. There are several different packages on the market and I tried a few out. In the end I chose Artlook ( largely because it has been developed in the UK and thus its defaults are in £ rather than $, and is set up for a British tax regime. It’s very reasonably priced and the support seems very good. So far I’ve found it to be perfect for the job, and I’m really pleased that I discovered it before starting the process long-hand.

We’ve also been able to test things locally by exhibiting at the See Gallery, where Julian and Jackie have been very helpful. Their current mixed Christmas exhibition closes next weekend but we have, so far, sold several pieces by Dave.


Dave died July 19th last year. He left his estate to his son Chris (as his wife Grace had died early in 2008). The estate involved his house and studio and, of course, his artwork. In the will Dave asked me to help Chris deal with the artwork as Chris had very little knowledge of this area.

From the beginning Chris and I have been supported by a number of Dave's friends, in particular Margaret Mytton, who has been a close friend of Daves for over 30 years. Dave made meticulous plans for his funeral and memorial service but did almost no planning with regard to the future of his work. As a result it has been a steep learning curve for the three of us and in the process we've discovered a lot that I think may be of use to other artists and their heirs. As a result I thought it would be a good idea to follow this journey through a blog.

January 09
Since December things have moved on. I discovered a book 'Artists Estates: Reputations in Trust' by Magda Salvesen published in 2005 by Rutgers University Press (ISBN-10: 0813536049/ISBN-13: 978-0813536040). Although an American book it has a lot to say about the situation we found ourselves in, and its interviews with the heirs of artists were both reassuring and helped provide us with an understanding of the (enormous) job we had taken on.

By now Chris, Margaret and I were having regular meetings about the Estate. I felt it was important to put things on a business-like footing and proposed to Chris that he made the work over to a Trust, and that the three of us made up the trustees. The ultimate beneficiary would remain Chris, but the need to develop Dave's reputation and maintain his work were our prime objectives. Chris thought this over, and we eventually consulted a solicitor. Ultimately we all felt this was a sensible course, protecting both the work itself and also the input of physical work being undertaken by Margaret and myself. The Dave Pearson Trust should be set up early in February.

December 08
5 months ago, after the shock of Dave's death, the reality of dealing with his creative legacy sank in quickly. The studio, where most of his work was stored, was a mess. Dave hoarded almost everything he ever created - and not only artwork but magazines, books, even medications from his illness. The studio wasn't heated, although he had double-glazed the windows a few years ago.

Most of all the place was crammed with his work, largely haphazardly and spilling into the stairwells and corridors. There were three levels - each with 3 or 4 rooms. For my own sanity as much as anything I began a basic inventory - room by room, listing and counting all the work without much regard for detail beyond measuring and listing the media. Even this took 3 months of sustained work, and by the end of the period I had logged about 14,000 pieces - oil paintings, drawings, prints, pastels.

Once this inventory was completed we started clearing out the rubbish. We filled three large skips over three days. The bad news was finding a serious infestation of dry-rot which had spread from the cellar to the ground floor. Anything potentially infected was burned and the affected rooms were quarantined. But we realised immediately that this discovery meant that the studio had, soon, to be treated. This not only meant finding money we didn't have, it meant finding somewhere else to house Dave's work. All 14,000 pieces of it.