Monday, 18 December 2017

Getting ready for Leicester

We're busy preparing paintings, information boards, labels, tools and suchlike for the exhibition of Dave's work at Leicester Grammar School in January.

We've had 9 pieces newly framed for the show - as well as 8 already-framed works that will complete the collection of gouaches and drawings in the exhibition. The centrepieces will be three large-scale paintings - a diptych, a triptych, and a 5 panel piece, 7 metres in length, all over 2 metres in height. The overall theme for the exhibition will be the use of tree images, mythology and folklore within his vast 'Byzantium' period. 

The show opens on the 12th January and runs until April 1st 2018. 

Monday, 20 November 2017


Two key aspects of our work are now coming to their conclusion. By coincidence the process of cataloguing all of the artwork held at Dave Pearson's studio is coming to its end just as the Dave Pearson Trust itself is being wound up and made into a new organisation. 

Ella Cole has moved down to the ground floor of the studio and is now cataloguing the large paintings, currently working on item number 13260. After this, final, room has been completed, Ella will move onto the work that is stored in Chris Pearson's house, just down the road from here. It's hard to be certain but that possibly houses another 2,000 or so drawings and paintings. 

The Trust itself is going to be wound up at the end of the current financial year. If you've read the earlier blog posts you'll remember that this has been forced on us because of estate duty issues, and if we didn't take this course of action the Trust would be facing a huge tax bill on its tenth anniversary. Instead the whole of the work that makes up the estate will be handed back to Chris Pearson, and he will manage it himself, although we (Bob, Ella) are planning to continue to offer him the same type of support that we currently provide to the Trust.

Meanwhile we're also collecting together work for the exhibition planned to open on 12th January 2018 at Leicester Grammar school, which will take a look at the way that Dave Pearson used the image of trees in his Byzantium paintings. This will then be followed by another large exhibition at the Turnpike Gallery, Leigh, Manchester between June and August 2018, when parts of the Byzantium series that have a particular relevance to Manchester will be shown.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Busy, busy

The 2017 Rossendale Art Trail was very successful; our studio was one of 19 participating. We had well over 100 visitors throughout the weekend, plus we made a few sales:

After this we're now preparing for a burst of activity over the next few months. Preparations are well advanced for the exhibition early in the New Year of Dave's work at Leicester Grammar School. Dave was evacuated to Leicester during the Second World War, and would have gone to school in the city. The Grammar School has excellent gallery space and it is a public space.

Arrangements to close down the Trust (see previous blogs) and establish a new business arrangement with his son Chris are beginning to take shape, and we're currently discussing an option to take on a new occasional exhibition space in Cheadle, from where we would be able to show Dave's work to a new audience. 

Some of the other things I've blogged about recently have developed too - the Art Fund has suggested that Compton Verney ( might make a good home for some of Dave Pearson's work from his English Calendar Customs and In The Seven Woods series, as they house the English Folk Art Collection.

Plans are moving forward with the Summer 2018 exhibition at the Turnpike Gallery in Leigh, and of course Dave's self-portrait is currently on show in the Spotlight Gallery at Dean Clough, Halifax. 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

On the Art Trail 2017

Among the strangest pieces made by Dave Pearson are the various assemblages created from painted chipboard and toy plastic animals. These were made in the late 1990s for the annual Globe Arts Christmas Market, that was something of a treat for those who knew about it. Here it was possible to pick up specially made, and often light-hearted, pieces of artwork from any of the Globe Artists for a few pounds. 

We've still a few of these at the Dave Pearson studio and, along with everything else, they'll be on show during the Rossendale Art Trail/Open Studios next weekend - October 7th and 8th. 

We're Venue C in the Art Trail brochure, along with our friends at Apna, who have a small exhibition of photographs by the award-winning Palestinian photographer Hamde Abu Rahma

Monday, 18 September 2017


This week I'll be taking the self-portrait by Dave Pearson (above) to the Dean Clough galleries in Halifax. It will be on show in the Spotlight Gallery, a small space in which only a single work is shown at a time, along with information about that work. 

A work by Dave Pearson was chosen at this time because it coincides with 'The Joy of Seeing', the first major retrospective of work by Gordon Snee. Gordon was a colleague of Dave's at the Foundation Studies Department at Manchester School of Art, later MMU. Gordon died in 2013, and like Dave a large legacy of his work was discovered after his death.

I've chosen this portrait because its such powerful image. It's both a realistic portrait of the artist, but also, in the mysterious collection of objects that cluster around the mirror, it's an indicator, a kind of geocache box, to his inner landscape. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Developments at the Dave Pearson Trust...and an intern.

Since the last blog work at the Dave Pearson Studio has developed significantly in several ways. First, the Trust has agreed on a deadline of 31st March 2018 to wind-up itself up. At that point all of the remaining paintings and other art works will be returned to Dave's son Chris (though physically they'll stay at the studio). For more on the reasons behind this read the January 2017 blog. In the short/medium term there won't be too many changes as Bob Frith will continue to oversee things at the studio (Bob is, in any case, the landlord), and he will continue to be helped by Ella Cole. But this change of legal status is clearly a turning point, and in the longer term there's no doubt that the Dave Pearson estate will almost certainly find fresh ways of maintaining Dave's work and developing his reputation.

Next, over the past few weeks we've been joined by Caitlin Stracey (above) who is helping us out for a day or two each week. Caitlin has arrived at a good time, as we're busy reorganising things for a number of reasons  Initially in order to create space for the Apna to have their own office space in addition to our own:

We've also started to archive certain works, mainly sketches and preparatory drawings, so as to create more space in which to show finished pieces. We feel confident to do this because Ella is now very close to completing the cataloguing of the work that we have in the studio. As a result we're better able to take an over-view of all of Dave's work and make decisions on which pieces should be archived, and which should stay visible and shown publicly - both in exhibitions, as well as to potential buyers.

Once the cataloguing at the studio is complete, there's still the little matter for Ella of cataloguing the work that remains at Chris Pearson's house, just along Manchester Road. This could easily amount to another thousand artworks.

Finally, to say that Arry Nessa, who manages Apna (which now occupies the downstairs front room) is in the final stages of doing her own organising - of the On-Paper Festival, which is partly based in our premises. It's good to feel that the building now has a double creative focus, and the Apna room will be used for a wide-range of activities from lantern making to paper-cut workshops and mindfulness.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Self portraits

Ella has finally completed recording Dave's self-portraits - after adding 183 new pieces to the catalogue. 

There's a range of paintings in sizes from one 130cm square canvas, down to a variety of smaller oil paintings of about 25 by 30cms and upwards: 

Most are expressionist in style and brushwork but when these were done is a bit of a mystery. Our guess is that mostly they were painted during the 1990s, based mainly on the evidence of what age Dave looks in them. Whether they were done as one intensive series, or whether they were paintings undertaken in-between creating other works isn't clear.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Dave Pearson at the Bridgeman Art Library

One of the things that has taken us longer to achieve than originally planned has been to establish a link between the Dave Pearson Trust and the Bridgeman Art Library. Edward Lucie-Smith first put us in touch with the Bridgeman several years ago and since then we've rather struggled to get together the necessary high-quality images which we could submit to them. 

Now, at last, Ella and I have managed to send a selection to the Bridgeman and we're pleased to say that they have now created a page for Dave Pearson within their Art Library website. It means that copies of the selected painting scan be bought as prints from the Art Library to be used in publications, and proper copyright payments and credits will be awarded to our Trust. 

Below is a sample of a page from the Bridgeman. To look further go to and enter 'Dave Pearson' into their search engine. It includes tags to help organisations looking for a suitable image to narrow their search, and a lightbox facility to look at the artwork properly. 

Now we've managed to put a small number of Dave Pearson's images into the library, we hope to expand the number as high quality photographs become available. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Calendar Customs notebooks

For a long time I've been meaning to take a closer look at 11 Daler Calendar Customs sketchbooks that Dave left - 5 A5 and 6 A4 sizes. The Trust discovered many sketchbooks and notebooks, but these 11 are different as they are well organised and all of a kind. Most of them have a label on their cover to denote particular periods of the year - such as 'New Years Day', or simply by month. 

They contain Dave's notes and researches into English Calendar Customs, and they were used by him to inform the large relief oil paintings that he made in the 1970s, and the accompanying etchings (that we've just had reprinted). There are also just a few of the drawings that are diagrammatic sketches for specific prints or paintings and so, in these, it's possible to work out what each of the customs depicted in the final work relate to. 

There must be in total about 500 pages of drawings and writing - mostly in great condition, although a few (where he has remounted pages from another notebook) have been damaged by glue residue. The vast majority of the drawings are very sketchy, and are made up of simple, charming line drawings. But a number have been worked into, and these are the ones I particularly like. 

On May Day (fittingly) I went through the 11 books, and photographed just about all of the more detailed drawings. There were 72 in total, and for anyone who is interested I've put them into a photo-album called Calendar Customs on the Facebook page for The Dave Pearson Trust ( ).

Saturday, 29 April 2017


For the past few months I've been able to spend more time working with Ella Cole at Dave Pearson's old studio, which is where the Dave Pearson Trust is based. Between us we've been following up our contacts with the intention of putting together some exhibitions of Dave's work. This is after a period of 2 or 3 years in which exhibitions of the work have been limited. 

During the past couple of weeks our efforts appear to finally be having an affect. We're now finalising dates for medium and large scale shows at the Turnpike in Leigh, and Leicester Grammar School, and with smaller shows at Dean Clough in Halifax, along with our friends at the Colourfield Gallery and According to McGee (York) showing pieces. Plus there's the enquiry from Zillah Bell, one of the major galleries specialising in prints (see previous blog). Dean Clough have intimated that they may well consider a larger-scale show at some time in the future.  

This is good news, and shows that even a relatively small effort on our behalf can result in real interest in Dave's work being revived. On Monday this week we hosted a coach load of visitors from Merseyside Arts Fund and, miraculously, squeezed 40 visitors into the studio. Everyone enjoyed the visit, and we even made a the promise from others to return for a closer look. 

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?