Sunday, 27 June 2010

Images from the Van Gogh period

A recently discovered set of slides from the late 1960s/early 1970s shows some of Dave Pearson's work from his Van Gogh period. Nearly all of this work has been lost either through deterioration of the papier-mache, or for lack of storage space. The top photograph above shows 'The Potato Eaters' and part of 'The Blue Reaper' in the foreground, probably at the Bede Gallery in Jarrow. The wall on the right is full of etchings and drypoints from this period and, fortunately, there are examples remaining of most of these. 

The central photograph is probably from the Liverpool Academy exhibition in the same year, 1970. The blue 'Vincents Hat' is visible, with 'Sunflowers' on the right and 'The Blue Reaper' again glimpsed through the doorway. At the bottom there's a close up of 'Vincent and the Blue Easel' from one of these shows  - the figure of Van Gogh being roughly life-size. 

Friday, 18 June 2010

Holding back work...

After the Reveal Open Studios weekend we were expecting a visit yesterday from BBC Radio 4 Front Row, but that got postponed at short notice. Instead Margaret and I met up at 54 and used the opportunity to review where we are with things. 

A lot has been achieved in less than two years, but having rescued the work and the studio many of the the fundamental questions and issues about the Estate remain. In particular how are we going to increase awareness of Dave Pearson's work and get to see it represented more widely in collections? Up to now we have been selling work at what we consider to be low prices in order to raise enough money to sustain our work, but we now have sufficient funds to look after the storage and building for the immediate future as well as commission a film about Dave. 

We started by deciding to put more work aside, to 'ring-fence' it from immediate sales. The criteria will be 
  • important pieces in Dave's development; 
  • exceptional pieces that would currently be ludicrously under-priced; 
  • typical examples from his main series of works, especially those in short supply. 

So, for example we've decided to hold back the remaining 40 self-portraits on canvas. We will also soon look at the relief paintings and some of the series of works on paper. We've already been through this process with the 'In the 7 Woods' pencil series (see above for an example) and held back perhaps 30% of the drawings. We've done it for the large prints too. Eventually we'll do this for all of the work... 

As Trustees of the Estate we have a duty to the mission of the Trust, which is (in short) protecting the work and enhancing Dave Pearson's reputation as an artist. We also have a duty to Chris Pearson who made over the work to the Trust (he remains a Trustee) to manage the sales of the work sensibly, and we recognise that it would be foolish to sell pieces at this stage that may well be significantly more valuable in future. It's all about striking the right balance of course, and we need to get the balance right between getting some income in now and making certain that the legacy is properly protected.

Monday, 14 June 2010


We had over 120 visitors at the weekend; most of them staying about an hour exploring Dave's old studio. So most of the time it was busy and buzzing with chat and enthusiasm. This was a good number as it meant Margaret or I were able to speak individually with just about everyone who came through our door to explain a little about who Dave was; why the studio in Haslingden was there; and what our plans were. Several people had even made the journey from London to Haslingden specially in order to visit us. 

I got out for short period and visited two of the other studios in the Valley, but run out of time to see more. I think this was typical of most of the artists involved - so busy with their own studios that they didn't have the time to see what us others were up to. The feedback was that the weekend was a great success, although the See gallery had far fewer visitors than the studios, possibly as a result of people deciding that they would focus on visiting those venues that weren't normally open to the public. 

At 54 Manchester Road we also managed to sell 6 pieces of work, and there several people who took my details so they could arrange another visit in order to buy at a later date. There was a really enthusiastic response from almost everyone - a good weekend, and many thanks to Susan, Barbara, Dave, Steve, Kay and Anne who helped us out.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Adopt a large relief!

I've been grabbing the odd hour or two to go to over to the studio and clear and tidy in readiness for the Open Studio weekend - on the 12th and 13th of June we're opening up Studio 54 between 11.00am and 4.30pm as part of Reveal: Rossendale Open Studios. 

There's been a lot of tidying away, and I had also hoped to deal with one of our persistent problems - the Asylum! Dave created two pieces in the early 1970s based on Van Gogh's paintings of the Asylum at St. Remy. They were large and very heavy reliefs, both over 8' x 6' (2.4m x 1.8m). They were exhibited at the Hayward on the South Bank but since then they have both been stored at Dave's Haslingden studio. The largest Asylum piece is thankfully displayed at the Boo - the theatrespace and venue belonging to Horse + Bamboo Theatre - but I had hoped to hang the smaller of the two pieces in the entrance hall of the studio.

Yesterday I gave up. There's only one place it would fit, but an examination (and a test bore-hole) showed that the wall there simply isn't strong enough for it. In the exhibition room it totally dominates everything else, and it's far too big to move elsewhere in the building. So - what to do? Asylum 2 is pictured below...

We may simply have to record it very thoroughly, and then break it up; destroy it. We don't want to do this but there now doesn't seem like any other solution. Unless we find a lovely home for it. Anyone out there interested. If so - please, please get in touch.