Saturday, 29 December 2012

Comfort - and an exhibition

This week we will be starting getting the studio ready for Ella (see the previous blogs) so that she can commence work on cataloguing the Trust's collection. 

Even now, having sold several hundred pieces of Dave's work since his death, there is still no space for laying out drawings in order to photograph or archive them properly. So one of our main priorities will be to increase shelf space by buying shelving units that will provide 30 additional storage shelves. This means Ella will be able to catalogue and move the awkward piles of work that currently sit on top of the plan chests. These will then be filed away in acid-free boxes and, where necessary, individual sheets will be separated by acid-free paper. Having another plan-chest would be useful - anyone have one that needs a good home?

We'll also be working on making the place a little more comfortable - some racking in the kitchen, a microwave cooker, desks and a desk-lamp, plus a heater by Ella's desk. 

From the 14th January there's also an interesting exhibition of Dave's 'Bestiary' paintings from the late 1990s at the See Gallery in Crawshawbooth. It's only open by request through and contains a few large canvases such as the one shown above, and a good number of smaller ones. This series, inspired by Dave's interest in medieval bestiaries, occupied Dave for over 10 years and went through a number of different phases that are represented in this fascinating exhibition. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Wi-fi, and some support...

I spent the day at Dave's studio in Haslingden yesterday while BT engineers busied themselves climbing up poles, drilling holes in the thick stone walls, and making the place wi-fi friendly. In between time I heard them having conversations about surrealism and whether Dave had ever travelled to South America. Anyway, job done and we're now broadband abled.

This is partly in preparation for taking on someone to work on a more regular basis cataloguing and recording Dave's work. Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I continually go on about how slow the progress is doing this job. I've managed to catalogue less than 1500 pieces in three years, so at that rate it will take between 30 and 50 years to complete the job! But now we've taken on Ella Cole, who has cataloguing experience as well as a degree in Fine Art, to work on moving things forward. Ella will start work with us early in the New Year, once we've made the studio slightly more work-friendly (i.e warmer and cozier). 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

More on the hat

The comment attached to my last posting, by Keith Fitton, prompted me to look back at the photo archive. In the period during which I first met Dave - 1966 onward - he was rapidly developing all sorts of inspiring work on the theme of Van Gogh. By 1968 Dave was working on a series of ambitious pieces based on some of Vincent's most iconic works. Today these would be called environmental or immersive pieces but, whatever you call them, they were papier-mâché and wood re-imaginings of, for example, Van Gogh's Bedroom, or the Road to Tarascon, which is the piece shown above. 

Dave's father was a tailor and he made the suit (and hat) - it's Dave himself wearing this in the photograph. There was a blue suit too, and a hat with candles, and there are few photographs in bad condition with me wearing the blue suit and hat (burning) alongside Dave in his yellow. 

The hat iconography grew out of this period - including that hat with candles - and Dave continued to use this distinctive feature of a yellow man (Vincent), and a blue man (perhaps from the friendship with Paul Gauguin) in series after series of paintings and prints. I think this identification was partly inspired by Sidney Nolan's 'Ned Kelly' series, where Kelly was always depicted wearing his odd letter-box iron mask. If my memory serves me well there was an exhibition of Nolan's work at, of all places, Accrington's Howarth Art Gallery, where we saw the Kelly series, and it was much discussed. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

Miniature Van Gogh

We recently had some visitors from Berlin; an old friend who asked if we could show his companion Dave's old studio in Haslingden. They stayed at the studio for a good few hours, and in the course of the visit we naturally looked not only at the piles of large canvases but also at various examples of Dave's work that are filed away in the many plan chests, and at the piles of small drawings, paintings and notebooks that have made their way up to the top floor. 

Among these are a small number of very tiny paintings on wood - done both in oil paint and gouache. These works are from the late 1960s and early 70s when Dave was obsessed by Van Gogh. The above example is one of the latter and measures only about 10 by 7 cms, and it's one of the many images that Dave painted with figures in rooms or in landscapes representing Vincent and others wearing distinctive large hats. In this one there's a hat on the table too; it has candles strapped to it, and Vincent describes using this method for being able to continue to paint after nightfall. When I shared a house, briefly, with Dave during this period we made a cake like this to honour Vincent's birthday.

The smallest example we found was an oil of Van Gogh's 'The Reapers' after Millet, that measured just 3.5 x 7 cms, and which my friend from Germany bought on the spot. 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Scratching the surface

Sorry, not many blog entries recently - but things continue to move forward, with Julian and Jackie dealing with plenty of sales and other inquiries about Dave's work. I've been finding it hard to keep up with providing them with the necessary certificates of provenance and invoices. 

Cataloguing the collection continues spasmodically too, and we've almost reached number 1500 in the Catalogue of Work. This is slightly misleading as numbering started, I believe, at number 110, and then there has been a few spoiled entries - still it means at least 1300 works must have been catalogued - for many artists a life-times work. In Dave's case however this has hardly scratched the surface and probably represents considerably less than 10% of the work that the Trust holds. 

I cycled up to the studio today to measure some of the pieces that I needed to catalogue  - including the three heads in the previous blog. At first I couldn't find the green portrait, when I did I found that it actually looks more like this:

So apologies for the washed out image in the earlier blog - a reminder of how photographs can be actively misleading if they aren't carefully colour-matched. Something Margaret spends a lot of her time  doing. 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Three rootling discoveries

Interest in Dave's work has continued, and although I'm still going through a very busy period at the theatre, Julian Williams and Jackie Taylor of the See Gallery continue to support the Trust - and in particular there still remains a week of the 'Works on Paper' exhibition at the gallery. 

Sales have been really good from this show, and I'm continuing to receive enquiries as a result of last April's exhibition in London, and from showings on the Community Channel of the 'Beyond Byzantium' film. 

One enquiry from Ireland has had me looking for small oil paintings at Dave's old studio - and the three portraits above I discovered this morning while rootling among the store shelves. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Reveal 2012

Reveal - Rossendale Artists Open Studio weekend was, this year, deliberately held on the same weekend as the Horse + Bamboo Puppet Festival in Waterfoot. This enabled both events to their share publicity costs and was entirely sensible - making a larger event with lots on offer for both adults and children. The one downside for me was that I needed to be at Waterfoot for almost the whole weekend and so unable to enjoy a visit to the artists studios. So with the exception of one 15 minute visit to see Dave's exhibition at the See Gallery I saw none of the studio shows - I saw lots of great puppet shows, but no painting.

The See Gallery, which has a history of low attendances during the Open Studio event (probably because people choose to go to those exhibitions that are only open to the public once a year rather than one that is open for most of the time) had, this year, a large number of visitors. Dave's work looked great in the re-furbished gallery (above), and sales of his works on paper have been excellent - with something like 50% of the exhibits having been sold. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Less than a week until the 'Works on Paper' exhibition opens at the See Gallery, and preparations are well underway. The framed pieces will arrive from the framers on Tuesday, and I'll be spending that evening with Julian finalising titling and suchlike, and making sure that each piece is properly entered into the Catalogue of Work. 

I'm really excited about this show - it will be fascinating to see a selection of Dave's drawings taken from different stages throughout his life, presented in one space. The gallery itself has also had an overhaul. Julian and Jackie used to live above the gallery but have moved during the summer period of its closure, so it also be interesting to see what they've made of the newly re-arranged exhibition spaces that make up the gallery. 

At the same time Margaret Mytton is recording works in oil paint that may form the basis for a second London show some time in the future, as well as continuing her preparation of a new website focusing on the 'Book of Revelation' series made by Dave in the mid-1970s.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

A forthcoming exhibition in Rossendale

This week I've been working with Julian Williams of the See Gallery in preparation for a new exhibition of Dave's work - DAVE PEARSON: WORKS ON PAPER. This is to be part of the Reveal Open Studios weekend on the 22nd and 23rd September, although it will continue until the beginning of November. 

Julian and his partner Jackie have selected the work, which is currently being framed, but I've been helping them with the publicity - including mailing lists and the press release: 

"2012 has been a year in which Dave Pearson's reputation has been seriously enhanced by an important exhibition in London; the publication of a catalogue containing major essays on his work by the noted art historian and writer Edward Lucie-Smith, and others; and coverage of his work by BBC TV.

"Interest in Dave's work has never been greater, and to follow up that interest the see gallery in Crawshawbooth has used its unique access to Dave's output to put together an exhibition that traces the artist's development throughout his 50-year career by focusing on his work on paper. Starting with drawings from the 1960s relating to his obsession with astronauts, and then the life and work of Van Gogh, through to the tremendous drawings of the 1970s based on English Calendar Customs, the Byzantium poems of WB Yeats that became his major inspiration throughout the 1980s and 90s, and then culminating in his late drawings and collages exploring his periods of ill-health

"This is the first exhibition to look at the artist's long career in this way and it will be a fascinating opportunity to follow his development through the graphic work on a long and always stimulating journey of discovery."

Opening times will be, for the Reveal Open Studio Weekend,  
Saturday 22nd September 10am – 4.30pm
Sunday 23rd September 10am – 4.30pm

After this the gallery will be open on Thursday and Fridays 10 – 4; although other times can be available by appointment. The exhibition finishes on the 2nd of November. 

The address is - the see gallery, Oddfellows Hall, Crawshawbooth, Lancashire, BB4 8AA.

Sunday, 12 August 2012


All around Dave's old studio drawings, prints, gouaches and other works on paper are appearing in small piles. This is the result of Julian ongoing selection of pieces for the September exhibition 'Dave Pearson: Works on Paper' which the See Gallery will be holding during the Open Studio weekend and the surrounding month or so. 

Works are also being set aside for a possible London exhibition, of which more as the story unfolds. Finally house-keeping is taking place - security shutters have been installed at the rear of the building, and dripping taps have been fixed. Suddenly, the studio is beginning to see a lot of activity again after the quiet summer. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Works on paper

I'm back from a (partly) working holiday and straight into a meeting at Dave's old studio in Haslingden. Julian and Jackie from the See Gallery want to discuss their plans for an exhibition of Dave's work on paper as part of the Reveal Open Studio weekend in September. This will also mean the re-opening of a re-vamped See Gallery, and a great opportunity to show examples of the often overlooked output of Dave's drawings, pastels, gouaches, and prints. 

Julian and Jackie had already been through some of the folders and drawers that Margaret and I haven't found time for; and they have unearthed some gems. These will all need to be framed, and as the number of pieces are substantial the chosen works need to be at the framers by this weekend. 

So I spent an hour or so looking through their choices. The idea is to represent all stages of Dave's creative life, and I was continually astounded and surprised by the inventiveness and sheer joy of these works. 

This will be a very special exhibition. Mark 22nd and 23rd September in your diaries - the date of the Open Studio weekend, although the See exhibition will be open for a longer period than just that weekend. Full details of dates and opening times will follow.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Back again, with some news...

It's been a month since I wrote a post on this blog. My apologies, but I've been totally engaged with creating a piece of theatre for touring the Islands and Highlands of Scotland (Angus - Weaver of Grass) which is now up and running and doing very well, thank you. 

In the meantime the Trust has cruised along mainly courtesy of Julian Williams of the See Gallery, and a number of sales have been made to buyers whose interest in Dave's work grew from seeing the Bermondsey exhibition. 

But now I have more time, and Margaret Mytton is on holiday from her lecturing duties at Manchester Metropolitan University, the blog should return to more like it's previous life - although having said that both of us will be taking holidays over the next month. 

Margaret has been working hard to create a website dedicated to Dave's series of drawings and other works on paper 'The Book of Revelation'. So far she has raised some money to initiate this project - something she has been committed to since Dave's death. The blog will report back on her progress...

Monday, 18 June 2012

Both Margaret and I are going through busy periods at work, so Trust things - following the Bermondsey show, the One Show appearance and the publication of the catalogue - are running on automatic. Julian and Jackie of the See Gallery are continuing to deal with a trickle of sales and requests, and I grab an hour or two each weekend to catalogue work, so we're not exactly a stand-still, even though it's notably quieter than the period leading up to the exhibition in London. 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Things to do on a Jubilee

I've  spent a wet Jubilee cataloguing the many small paintings and work on paper that have been sold during, and after, the Byzantium and Beyond exhibition (two examples above). These sales have mainly been dealt with by Julian and Jackie of the See gallery, here in Rossendale, and I'm very grateful to them as otherwise these sales would never have happened - with me completely engaged in the 'Angus' theatre production. 

It looks as if the sales of these paintings will more than cover the cost of mounting the exhibition in London. This is something I never expected, and although the three members of the Trust took a calculated gamble that the cost of the show would be worth it in terms of enhancing Dave's reputation as a painter, we were also aware that the cost would be significant, and eat into our reserves of money. The catalogue alone cost us more than £8000 to produce - and these costs were only kept as low as they were by Margaret Mytton's super-human effort working on the publication and the hang. 

But it now looks as if we will end up financially pretty much where we started - and of course we've gained tremendous publicity and have a wonderful catalogue to show for it too. 

Finally, another good slot for Derek Smith's film Dave Pearson : To Byzantium on the Community Channel - Friday 9th June at 20.00.

Thursday, 24 May 2012


Boat, above, was probably the most commented on individual painting hanging at the recent Byzantium & Beyond exhibition. The large pieces from the Byzantium series were much talked about too, but this oil on canvas (roughly 1.50m x 2.50m) was singled out by many as their particular favourite. 

In part, I suppose, because it had not recently been seen - even in the studio it was buried within a pile of other large paintings, but also because it stands slightly apart from any of Dave's large series of work. Whatever, it is a stunning painting that demonstrates Dave's real feel for, and mastery of, colour.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Back in Rossendale

Julian Williams texted me 'Finished!' just before 4 to say that he, helped by the painter David Newton, had finally off-loaded and put back into store all the paintings that had been in Bermondsey.They had started at 8 this morning, after arriving back at 3am from London. It's a tough job - large and heavy paintings and steep and narrow staircases; so well done - I'm so grateful.

Margaret is now back at work at MMU, and I'm right in the thick of creating a new show with Horse + Bamboo Theatre (Angus - Weaver of Grass; it goes into rehearsal in less than three weeks). But there's a lot of feedback still arriving on our doorsteps as a result of 'Byzantium & Beyond'. People wishing to visit the studio, usually to buy a piece of Dave's artwork; emails simply telling us how someone was impressed and moved by the show; and lots of people asking to be put onto our mailing list. What's more there's the possibility of a new London exhibition  being discussed - watch this space!

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Last Weekend

The last weekend of the London show is upon us. It's a rare opportunity so if you haven't visited Bermondsey Project yet try and make it before 6pm on Sunday!

Reactions have all been very positive - Mick Bateman wrote to tell me that visitor numbers have been their highest ever, and the Visitors Book includes: 

"Extraordinary body of work"
"Fabulous work - exciting and wonderful!", and many more like this..

Emails I've received include:

"Really fantastic - amazing"
"WOW", and
"blown away".

So, if you haven't yet seen the show but do make it this weekend - enjoy!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

We're on iBooks!

I heard last night that we finally have the lovely catalogue for Byzantium & Beyond available to buy on iBooks. This is a bargain at only £5.49 - less than half the price of having to send for a copy to be posted to you, and with high-quality images of many of the paintings illustrated able to be zoomed into with a wipe of the fingers!.

Simply go to the iBooks website, then to the Store and search for Byzantium and Beyond. 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

British Calendar Customs

This weekend has been full of work to follow up the incredible response to the One Show piece on the Bermondsey show. The number of people who have signed up to receive information from the Trust has doubled, as has the number of people following our Facebook page and Twitter account. There's also the matter of responding to the many people who have written wishing to buy a painting by Dave. This is far from easy to organise as the London exhibition is not a selling show, in the sense that Crisis, who rent and run the space are not allowed to sell as a condition of their lease, although the Trust can sell works in the exhibition, but only by handing it ourselves - and this isn't easy as we don't have a presence in London. Anyway it has been sorted, offering people a choice of options including meeting up with Margaret on two named days when she will be in London.

Anyway, to lighten the workload, I decided to go through the 10 notebooks that Dave left behind which contains his notes, scribbles and sketches on British Calendar Customs.  There should be 11 but we can't find one of them. These are wonderful - full of the notes Dave made when reading up the subject, and quick sketches that would have provided a basis for the paintings and collages he eventually made. These books reveal yet another side of the artist. Among the pages are a handful of more worked up ink drawings and I include a couple here. Above is a drawing of a Full Moon ritual, and below of 'Dumb Cake' from Norfolk. 

Friday, 27 April 2012

BBC One Show

Within 30 minutes of the broadcast of the piece on last night's One Show, I had received almost 60 emails of interest, and by this morning well over 100. 

All of these were positive; most were people signing up to our website newsletter, but a good few were enquiries about buying the catalogue or even a painting. 

We felt it was a well-done piece, containing a few inaccuracies but on the whole telling the story in a succinct and effective way. We all agreed that the shots of the Bermondsey Project gallery showed what a wonderful space it is. I really hope the One Show broadcast will bring plenty of visitors to the gallery this weekend.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Matt and Alex cometh

Three more images of the opening that illustrate what a lovely space Bermondsey Project is for exhibiting large paintings.

Today and tomorrow the BBC's One Show are filming us in London and Rossendale. I'm tied up elsewhere but Margaret, Chris, Edward and more will be involved and probably interviewed. To see the result watch the broadcast at 19.00 on Thursday.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Our opening in London

Over 100 people attended the opening of 'Byzantium and Beyond' at the Bermondsey Project on Thursday night. I was considerably relieved by number of people who turned out on a thundery and wet evening. The response was overwhelming too. Thank you to all the many, many people involved in getting this exhibition together and allowing us to exhibit Dave's work in London.

Deverani and Tobais, Dave's grand-daughter and grandson
Looking into the main gallery (left) and the self-portrait gallery

Chris Pearson talks with his cousin Lorraine (right, back to us); with Edward Lucie Smith left middle distance
The entrance to the main gallery

Sue Goodwin and Barbara Nicholls

The film-maker Derek Smith and Julian Williams

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Bermondsey tablecloth

So here we go - soon to catch the train to London.

Julian phoned last night from Bermondsey and told me how the day had gone; last minute problems with the print-shop, and a late afternoon tweaking of the lights. But ultimately all looks well; in fact he says 'brilliant'.

So today it's a final tidy, the odd coat of paint (on the gallery walls), and ironing the Bermondsey Project tablecloth. See you there...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Almost there

Despite Margaret's work last week there still appears to be a lot still to do. Julian Williams (See Gallery) has been in Bermondsey these past couple of days sorting the final arrangements before Margaret returns tomorrow for her final check. 

Sourcing print has been a problem for us, familiar with Lancashire prices, with London print-shops charging 250% more than we are used to, and Julian has been charging all over London to find a good deal for jobs such as information boards, titles and other support material for the exhibition. His gallery experience has proved useful in sorting drinks and nibbles, as  well as chasing up last minute lighting and tidying jobs. But my last phone call with him, an hour ago, was far more relaxed - at last we seem to be on top of things.

The catalogue, we're told, will arrive on Thursday morning - let's hope this isn't another nail-biter. Ric, our designer, has seen the finished book and says it 'looks fantastic'. Hollie from Cork Street Open Exhibitions has told us the iBook is complete too, look great and we're jiust waiting now for confirmation from Apple that it's on the iBookstore.

So something else to look forward to, along with all the people who are ringing or texting and - on the whole - telling me that they're going to be there. Roll on Thursday evening!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A report back - and help needed

Derek Smith, the director of 'To Byzantium', the wonderful film about Dave Pearson and the work of the DP Trust, visited the hang in Bermondsey and sent me these two photographs. He wrote:

"The show even at this early stage of completion looks amazing ! This is of course my first real experience of a Dave Pearson exhibition after squinting at jpgs.....and stacked canvases for all of 2 years."

Margaret reports that everything is 90% in place, but there are a few gaps in the lighting. Does anyone out there have access to a couple of fresnel lanterns? Or a few spotlights? The problem for us is getting things down to London from Rossendale at this stage in the proceedings. 

Any help with this would be very welcome. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hanging commences

Margaret Mytton is now in London and, helped by Taidgh and Darren, is now starting the hang of the show. Edward Lucie Smith will be along today and final positioning of the work will be agreed before the paintings start being mounted on the walls. 

Margaret tells me that she already feels sure that additional lighting will be required so this now has to be negotiated with Mick Bateman  of Crisis. Fortunately we bought and took down several halogen lamps down with us (from Lidl!), and these apparently do the job perfectly. 

I'm working on final graphics for the exhibition, and will be sending these to London with Julian on Sunday so the local print-shop can prepare the boards for the opening next week. 

Saturday, 31 March 2012

The pack...

I visited the studio in Haslingden an hour or so ago where Julian and Jackie, helped by Andre and Mariana, our Portuguese theatre students here on placement, were busy wrapping everything in sight in bubble-wrap. Tomorrow Julian and Chris Pearson load the truck and then Julian drives down to Bermondsey with the exhibition.  

Mick Bateman has emailed to say that everything is in place at the Project to receive the work, and when Margaret arrives on the 10th the hang will begin. Meantime, I'm off for a short break in Cascais (where Andre and Mariana are at theatre school). Mick has also listed the publicity that Crisis have been undertaking, in addition to my own efforts. This is all very encouraging and the fact that the Bermondsey Project is also expecting to launch its own website in a few days time is also a boost to our effort to publicise the show.

Not especially related to anything current are the three very tiny oil paintings of Mummers done by Dave in the 1970s when he was researching English calendar customs. I really like these little paintings, and they show a very different side to Dave's work than the pieces we'll be showing in Bermondsey.