Monday, 31 January 2011

More visitors

The weekend involved yet more visitors to the studio in Haslingden. Five school colleagues, friends of the See Gallery's Jackie, spent Sunday afternoon viewing the work and enjoying the atmosphere of the place. I sometimes find myself taking it for granted, so it's always good to be jolted back to the realisation of how unique the place is - housing the majority of Dave Pearson's artwork, which is extraordinary both in terms of its quality and quantity.

These photographs show how different the studio is now from the place that I 'inherited' after Dave's death. Although it simply holds too much work to function effectively as a gallery, it at least offers a clean and fresh environment to store the work; and in some areas such as the upper corridor (top photograph) and the entrance room (immediately below) it provides something approaching a gallery display. 

More, it contains half a century of an artist's work, so it's unique as a place to explore his life and development as an artist. Most of the work remains unsorted, let alone catalogued, so a visit also retains the sense of being an exploration and an adventure as you pick your way through seven rooms full of paintings large and small, prints, drawings, notebooks - all the paraphernalia of an artists life. 

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The stag on the ceiling

It has been an eventful week; on Thursday I took two head teachers from local junior schools around Dave Pearson's studio. One of the heads had participated, at her previous school, in a scheme organised by the National Gallery called 'Take One Painting'. A painting from their collection was used as a source for exploration by the school-children. This could simply turn out to be a week of art lessons, or it could be a term of study researching something that developed out of looking at and studying the artwork in depth - perhaps a history project; research on costumes; or looking at customs from another time or from another culture. Anything that the children might wish to discover from the painting and follow in their own way, guided by the teachers.

This had been so successful a project that she wished to follow it with something similar in her new school - which happens to be in Haslingden. Dave Pearson's work had been mentioned, and so the visit was arranged in order to look at his work in the context of the studio, and discuss how we might choose a piece of his work and work together on such a project. The heads were very excited - it's early days yet, but I know this is the kind of thing that Dave would have loved and applauded. 

Then yesterday I met up with a collector I've got to know through his enthusiasm for Dave's work. Over the past couple of years he has bought a good number of pieces from the Trust - always well chosen and considered. Having visited his house I know that wall-space is now at a premium, so he had the idea of mounting a largish piece on the ceiling of his bedroom. Unconventional, and something I couldn't quite imagine - so I was presented with a pen-drive full of photographs of the piece in situ. He has even developed his own hanging system with specially designed slotted plates, and screw fittings with washer heads to hold the painting securely in place. Our collector friend is delighted at the result, and is now considering adapting another ceiling - and an even larger painting!

Finally, I also met with Julian and Jackie at the See Gallery to sort out the finances of the recent exhibition. Along with the proceeds from other recent sales, I'll now be able to pay another cheque into the Trust account. The Trust feel that we can use some of this income to help further the work in local schools

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Quantity - and quality

This week I finished cataloguing all of the pieces that were in the December exhibition at the See Gallery, plus a handful more that have been sold recently. It takes the catalogue number to above 1000, although I think the numbering started at 100 or thereabouts (must check this). Still, it's a not inconsiderable achievement, although the thought lingers that it hardly seems to have made a dent on the truly vast amount of work that Dave left on his death and that still needs to be entered into the catalogue of his work. My guess is that there is at least 20 times the amount of work still to be catalogued - so a total of around 20,000 pieces

I also heard from a head-teacher I know that a Haslingden school, hence one local to Dave's studio, want to visit his studio to look at the work with a view to using a piece of his work as their choice for the National Gallery's 'Take One Picture' scheme in which primary schools through the UK are invited to 'respond creatively' to a painting. The guidelines I've found seem to suggest that this should be a painting from the National's own collection, but perhaps this is another, or an associated, scheme. Either way it's a wonderful idea and a tribute to the imagination of the school, St. James, that they have looked at the idea of choosing a painter who lived and worked in their own community. A tribute, too, to the power and ability of Dave Pearson's work to communicate itself to a wide audience. 

Sunday, 9 January 2011


So after a break from working on Trust business over Christmas and New Year I'm back picking up the reins. One thing is to get the pieces that were on show at the See gallery (a selection of work from Dave's old studio at Globe Arts) into the DPT Catalogue. I had planned to do this months ago but a mix up with Margaret about photographing these works has slowed things down so I'm getting close to forgetting which pieces were in the show and having to rely on my notes. Not something I would advise; we realise we must systemise our photographic recording of exhibitions in the future. I also need to meet with Jackie and Julian of the gallery (I hope to do this later today) and sort out the sales and expenditure on the show. 

Slowly my mind turns back to the on-going issue of the Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and their query about the value of the work on Dave's death. This really has to be cleared up soon - it's a weight hanging over both the Trust and Chris Pearson. 

Addendum: By the evening I managed to track down and photograph all the paintings from the See exhibition. Julian and Jackie paid a visit too, bringing along two friends who explored the collection in a mood of awe and wonder and then finally bought 6 pieces of work. So it turned out to be 5 hours spent at the studio and, as ever, the revelation of new and unseen (to me) pieces of work; new delights...