Sunday, 21 December 2014


Christmas and New Year Greetings to all followers of the Artist's Estate blog or indeed anyone excited and interested by Dave Pearson's work. 

You may well have already received our Seasonal Newsletter featuring the painting above, which Ella uncovered recently when she opened up a folder of Dave's school and student works. If so, apologies for flagging up an exhibition we're all looking forward to - in 2105! A few of you noticed, or bothered to comment on, this typo which we promptly wrote off as being entirely deliberate. In fact it was, of course, meant to be 2015 and we are indeed expecting a second show in the first part of next year at the According to McGee Gallery, York. So, no need to wait those 90 years after all. 

Best wishes from Chris Pearson, Margaret Mytton, Bob Frith and Ella Cole.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

8000, astronauts and the family dog

I called in at Dave's studio this afternoon just in time to see Ella Cole pass the 8000 mark in her catalogue of Dave's work.

Ella is currently working her way through a folder of some of Dave's early work - large watercolour and ink sheets, many of them associated with the Astronauts series that he started during the late 1950s, when he was 20, and culminated with a well-received show at the New Art Centre in 1962.

Among them are some drawings he must have made at home - including this lovely series of sketches of the family dog:

Saturday, 18 October 2014

A special showing..

Dave Pearson left his series of almost 300 illustrations of the Book of Revelation to his close friend Margaret Mytton. Margaret is one of the trustees of the Dave Pearson Trust, and she has carefully organised the series into a audio-visual presentation, as well as a website of its own, with detailed notes on each image. Link to the Book of Revelation website here.

Now Margaret has arranged for a special showing of this wonderfully inventive series of illustrations at the Whitaker Museum and Art Gallery in Rawtenstall. 

Book your seat at the Whitaker for this event, along with Halloween storytelling, with this extract from the Whitaker's website...

Dave Pearson -The Book of Revelation

All Hallows Eve World Premiere

Friday 31st October 2014
7.00 pm
Adults £5/Children £3 ( this is a combined ticket for this and the Halloween story telling event. )
Whitaker World Premiere!
Dave Pearson’s series of 284 illustrations of the Book of Revelation will be shown for the first time in its entirety in the deadpan but unearthly setting of the Drawing Room. This will be running as a special event alongside our Halloween story telling.
The Book of Revelation has long been associated with the three-day celebration of Allhallowtide: All Hallows’ Eve on 31st October, and especially Hallowmas or All Saints Day on 1st November and All Souls Day on 2nd November. The Book’s message is at once terrifying and consoling to the elect. On All Hallows’ Eve, Christians traditionally believed that the veil between the material world and the afterlife thinned, and imagery from the Book of Revelation was used in the 7th century prayer of the Office of the Dead, traditionally read on All Souls Day. 
In Mexico the 3 days of Allhallowtide is celebrated as the Day of the Dead during which it is believed that the deceased return to visit their loved ones. At midnight on November 2 In the town of Patzcuaro, people light candles and ride winged boats called mariposas (butterflies) to where their dead are buried at Janitzio, an island in the middle of the lake.
The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back 2,500–3,000 years to a festival in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar – about the beginning of August – in which rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors were celebrated for an entire month.

Monday, 6 October 2014

A successful weekend

Dave's brushes. Photograph: Tobias Pearson 2014

Opening Dave's studio at the weekend turned out to be a big success. We finally seem to have struck the right balance between enabling access for people but also protecting the work. In 2012 fingering the work meant that there was some, fortunately a small amount, of damage done. This last weekend, with improved signage and at least one steward on each floor of the building, it worked well. Visitors were appreciative and clearly enjoyed the opportunity to spend time in the studio, looking at the work that was on display, watching the 'To Byzantium' film or Margaret Mytton's presentation of the 'Book of Revelation' series, or simply enjoying the atmosphere of the building packed with artwork. 

Thank you to Dave Smith, Ella Cole, Kay Kennedy and Tobias Pearson for stewarding over the two days and your support of Chris, Margaret and Bob from the Trust.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Rossendale Art Trail weekend

Image by Ruth Evans

This weekend we'll be opening up Dave's studio in Haslingden from 11am until 5pm on both days. It's part of the annual Rossendale Art Trail and Dave's studio will open alongside Globe Art, Valley Artists, Prospect Studios, Geoff Butterworth (Whitworth), The Whitaker, Jefferson Conway (also Haslingden) and, on Sunday only, the Boo.

The Dave Pearson Trust is to be found at 54 Manchester Road, Haslingden, BB4 5TE, and you can pick up a leaflet for the whole event at any of the studios - or at the Whitaker which also has a rather lovely cafe. 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

An experiment

Today we tried an experiment, using the Dave Pearson Trust building to run a poetry workshop with girls from the local South Asian community. The Manchester-based poet Shamshad Khan, above, ran a two hour session upstairs in our Haslingden base, Dave's old studio. 

Shamshad was helped by Arezzun Nessa, and together they decorated the upstairs floor of the old studio to create a suitable environment for the girls. Of course Dave's paintings were everywhere around, and Shamshad said that the girls and the women who brought them along to the studio were inspired and delighted by the context. 

The Saturday workshops will now continue over the next few weeks. They are part of a project running throughout 2014 and 2015, organised by Horse + Bamboo, called Different Moons, which sets out to record and celebrate the South Asian heritage community in Haslingden and Rawtenstall. Dave, we're certain, would have very much approved. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

'To Byzantium' now available on Freeview

We've just heard from Derek Smith, the director who made the stunning and acclaimed film 'To Byzantium' about Dave Pearson. He tells us that the TV Community Channel has released its new schedules and that they are still programming 'To Byzantium'.

The Community Channel is now on Freeview 109 so it commands a much bigger audience than it did before. 

For more information on the schedule, go to:


Sunday, 31 August 2014

A present from Ella!

Back from a couple of weeks holiday in France and Ella sent me this photograph of a newly discovered oil painting she came across while cataloguing. I'm not sure of it's size, or whether its a canvas or painted on card (although I suspect it's the latter), but I agree with her that it's a lovely example of Dave's mid-period small oil studies.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A tidying

On Wednesday last week we hosted a small group from Bacup & Rawtenstall Grammar School, who visited the studio, watched Derek Smith's film, and who were given a guided tour. This, along with the recent decision to open the studio for the Rossendale Art Trail Open Studio weekend in October, encouraged us to spruce up the rooms and fill some of the empty wall spaces.

The upper photo shows the room where pieces are photographed and catalogued and then shelved before being returned to their places. The two photos below that are of the room which is now fully catalogued. The bottom two photos are of rooms we probably won't reach for some time....

...probably worth adding, too, that we now have a Dave Pearson board on Pinterest; so if anybody want a quick peek at a range of Dave's work it's all there. Currently with over 70 pictures.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


As I'm beginning to spend most Tuesday's at Dave's studio in Haslingden, I've found time to do some housework including rehanging in the very few areas of blank wall space that don't have paintings piled against them - such as the top floor corridor, above.

Ella, meanwhile continues the job of cataloguing the work - she's at number 7101 as I write! The present series is somewhere over 100 pastel drawings from the 'In the Seven Woods' series of the early 1980s. Another recent series, the pen and ink drawings Dave made to envisage how the huge 'Byzantium' series should be displayed, created a particular problem. The paintings are very large oil-painted panels, and Dave recreated these on varied sized sheets of paper:

The dilemma was whether to record each drawing as a single catalogue item - or as several individual sheets. In the page above it could be 8 individual sheets, for example. Or 6; or 4. Ella chose to record each as a single item - I think the way Dave intended.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

An interesting cache...

Before Ella can entirely complete the cataloguing process in the first room, there remains one folder of work. Ella had some doubts whether the work was by Dave so we had a good look at the contents. The first sheets were pastels and oil pastels by his mother, Lilian, that had been entered for the 'Hackney Annual Art Exhibition', and with gold date stickers for 1982 and 1983.

But further in we came to some unmistakeable Dave Pearson's - not in great condition, it has to be admitted. 

There were half a dozen or so oil pastels on canvas, from the 'Calendar Customs' series, and these needed removing from their deteriorating mounts and will, ultimately, require cleaning. There were also about 15 larger scratched card and black pastel drawings from 'In The Seven Woods', which will need fixing. All of course can now be catalogued.

Probably the nicest pieces were six small coloured drawings, again from 'Calendar Customs'. I'm planning to have these framed - as small paintings by Dave all rare items.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Catalogue

I will have written about the cataloguing process way back; probably 2 or 3 years ago now. So it's probably worth posting a short reminder as to how it actually works.

Ella does a couple of days' work each week, mainly adding to the catalogue. She (as I write) is at catalogue number 6670. When Ella started I had reached around about the 1500 mark, which took me best part of 2 years - but in just under 18 months she has added over 5000 pieces of Dave's work.

What we call 'the Catalogue' is actually a piece of software called 'Artlook'. The company who make it are based in Milton Keynes and if and when something goes awry (which it does once or twice a year) they are available, on the end of the phone or email, for friendly support. It's a very reasonably priced package, and we would certainly recommend it. It's PC-based, which to me is a slight problem as otherwise I work on Macs, but other than that it does everything it claims - and then some.

Ella takes a photograph of each piece of work and enters it into the system. These photographs are fairly low-res and a simple guide to the piece rather than the definitive visual record. The title, media, size, value, date and so on also get entered and the software automatically generates a catalogue number. Ella backs the data up every week.

Artlook software offers all kinds of other cataloguing possibilities - accounting, comments on condition, even an on-line shop if you want one. The catalogue is also very valuable in recording the sales we make of work - including the names and addresses of buyers. In  this way it has helped us create a database of people who are interested in Dave's work. It also enables us to print out invoices, certifications of ownership, and other important paper-work. 

However, on the whole, we use only a small proportion of the resources that Artlook has on offer. Even so, we're continually using the catalogue search facilities, and the ability to print off the financial and sales records save a great deal of time and trouble. Finally, being able to view thumbnails of the work by category, and click on these for a bigger image if necessary, is also a highly valuable tool - probably the only way we get to overview Dave's work visually - or at least that part of it (a third?) which, so far, has found its way on to the catalogue.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

2,000 more drawings...

Another regular Tuesday at Dave's old studio in Haslingden, working alongside Ella as she catalogues Dave's work. Ella has been doing this, we reckon, for one year and four months now, and we've reached number 6,398 in the catalogue of work.

When I first looked at this huge collection of work, immediately after Dave's death, I started counting the collection - it was necessary, among other things, to do this for the Estate probate. I stopped at around 14,000 when it became impossible to reach further into the decaying and unsafe rooms, and at this point I realised that, tucked away, there could be as many as 20,000 pieces of work. This somehow reached the news media (I think through a local news report) and there was an avalanche of superficial comment in the press about the situation, typically labelling Dave as an eccentric artist and suchlike.

Eventually, as the Trust got to grips with the situation and we began to clear up and return the work to the restored studio, I modified my estimate to there being around 15,000 pieces of work, ranging from small sketches to enormous triptychs on canvas painted in oil. 

Today I cleared a shelf that had a number of plastic-bound folders on it; folders I assumed would have photo-copied sheets or photographs in them. In fact 11 of them contained drawings - probably an average of 150 per folder. So I had uncovered another 1600 or so drawings. These all need to be catalogued, although we'll probably count each folder as simply one item, and just note the number of individual pieces of work inside. 

Then Ella laid out a pile of mixed drawings from the same shelf (photos above) - yet another 400 items. So in just one morning we've uncovered another 2000 pieces of work. My estimate of Dave's output here in the studio is beginning to return to the 20,000 mark!

There were also a number of pieces in yet another file that I'm finding hard to categorise. Are they a record of work done, or are they artwork's in their own right? Most of them are clearly based on local war memorials (such as the one in the park just over the road from Dave's studio), and incorporate poppy motifs. However they need to be catalogued or preserved, they form a stunning record (see below) of another strand of Dave Pearson's work:

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Newly hung

Just received an email with a few attached photographs of one of the paintings sold at the York exhibition. It's always nice to see where the paintings go to, and this particular example looks beautifully hung. The natural side-lighting from the window also enhances the texture of the three-dimensional collage that Dave used in the Calendar Customs and 7 Woods series. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Studio visits

It's now the second Tuesday spent, under my new regime, at Dave's studio in Haslingden. Ella has paid me a visit but she is otherwise taking the day out as an Easter holiday. Electricians have been in dealing with the connection which has, alarmingly, started bleeding a resin-like substance from the mains box. This has oozed all over the connection board. So, with the power off for best part of an hour, and the inevitable security alarm ringing unstoppably in response, it's been an eventful morning. 

We're going to experiment by offering Tuesday afternoons as a time when interested visitors can arrange for a visit and guided tour of the studio. So if anyone wishes to see Dave's work in its studio home, then please contact us via and Ella or I will do our best to accommodate you. Ideally, we think, between midday and 4pm. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Back to York

Yesterday I went across to York for a final look at the exhibition at the According to McGee gallery on Tower Street (opposite Cliffords Tower).  Today (Sunday) is the last day of the show. I also met up with Graham Breakwell, who helped me hang the exhibition, as he had come up from Shropshire with his wife Angie and their two children. 

It looked great; and I was very pleased to see that 10 pieces have been sold, including the smallish oil on canvas (above) 'The Orange Tree', that I've always rather liked, and was a late addition to the exhibition to fill in a gap when a couple of works were sold on the opening weekend and taken away by the buyer. 

Tomorrow then, it'll be off with the hired transit to collect the remaining paintings and bring them back home to the old studio. But today, if you're interested, there's one last opportunity to visit the exhibition, and perhaps buy yourself a fantastic painting.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A day in Dave's studio

Today is the first time I've been able to work properly alongside Ella at Dave's studio in Haslingden. This because I'm slightly reducing my days at Horse + Bamboo and allowing myself a day each week catching up on the enormous number of jobs that have built up in the studio over the past couple of years. Ella focuses very effectively on the cataloguing process but there's a heap of jobs that have been allowed to pile up - everything from deciding on whether certain sketches/scribbles should be catalogued to fixing the cistern!

This is also the last week of the Dave Pearson: Colourist exhibition at the According to McGee gallery in York. There have been a decent number of sales and excellent feedback from the show but on Monday next week I'll be collecting the unsold work and bringing it back to the studio.

Ella tells me that she is cataloguing number 5976 as I write; so very close to the six thousand mark. Yesterday she uncovered some beautiful gouaches and water colours (pic above), but she's now cataloging a large series of works about the Haslingden war memorial, in the park just across the road from here. These series - and Dave worked on scores of them, on diverse subjects - are usually variations on a theme, sometimes drawing and painting over a photocopied image. Because there are literally hundreds of these works, perhaps thousands, we're discussing placing them in groups by series in their own special boxes and giving each box a catalogue number, rather than cataloguing each individual sheet.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Opening

Yesterday the show in York opened at the According to McGee Gallery, opposite Clifford's Tower. It was a good day - or rather afternoon - with a steady stream of visitors, a good number of sales of Dave's work, much appreciation, old and new friends, and a lovely and informal atmosphere.  

The gallery is small, but with work of this quality, well displayed (though I say it myself), and with a variety of vibrant paintings, it looked fabulous. After spending a few days here, hanging the work and walking to and from the car park, it has become one of my favourite areas of the city too. Very close to the riverside, the wonderful Tower on its mound overlooking the gallery, the museum and the little park almost next door, it's a very pleasant district of York, removed from the busier centre even though it's only a couple of minutes walk away. So it's well worth making the trip to see our little show and making a day of it by exploring the neighbourhood and eating in one of the small and reasonably priced eateries that are in the same row of old shops as the gallery. 

To finish, details of three of Dave's paintings that can be found in 'Dave Pearson: Colourist':

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


The past couple of days I've been in York hanging the 'Dave Pearson: Colourist' exhibition at the According to McGee Gallery. Above is the eponymous Mr McGee, Greg, in his front gallery with the three large oil paintings that dominate the room. I have to say that I'm very pleased with the hanging - it's a small gallery but we were able to include 25 pieces, including a handful that are large oils. It looks very good, and I'm especially grateful to Graham Breakwell who helped me on Monday, travelling up to York from Shrewsbury by train, and who made such an enormous difference to the hang.  

'Dave Pearson: Colourist'  opens this coming Saturday at 1pm. Everyone, of course, will be welcomed. The gallery is at 8 Tower St, York, North Yorkshire YO1 9SA.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Visitors and...fame

This week I've spent a fair few hours at Dave's old studio in Haslingden - some of them to do with preparing work to take to York for the exhibition, but also giving the studio a much needed airing and clean-up, plus meeting visitors and showing people around. It's seems appropriate, given that Spring is now unequivocally in the air, that things are clearly stirring at 54 Manchester Road and that there's still great interest in Dave and his work. 

Florian and Robin visited yesterday. They both live in Berlin, but Florian was a student on the Foundation Course at Manchester Poly (now MMU) and knew Dave as a teacher. He has bought a number of Dave's pieces in the past and visits the studio whenever he is back in the UK. Yesterday he and Robin bought several more small examples of Dave's work - the photo was taken in the room Ella uses for cataloguing. 

Today in our local newspaper - the Rossendale Free Press - there's a full-page feature on 'Who is Rossendale's most famous person?'. with a list of people including the actress Jane Horrocks, model Agyness Deyn and comedian/actor Ted Robbins. It also includes Dave Pearson which, even if representing nothing else, is surely a marker of the success we have had in keeping Dave's name and work in the public eye.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Preparations for York

In between work at Horse + Bamboo Theatre I'm undertaking various jobs that need to be done in order to prepare for the upcoming exhibition of Dave's work in York. Today, for example, I went over to the theatre workshop and created simple frames for two of the relief paintings Dave made in 1981 for the 'In the Seven Woods' series which grew from the earlier 'Calendar Customs' work of the 1970s. Both of these sets of work were derived from imagery relating to  English folk events. 

This past week I've also written and designed a simple leaflet for the exhibition, which went to the printers on Friday, and I now have a selection of between 24 and 28 paintings to take along to York in early March for hanging the exhibition and about a dozen of these are currently at the framer.

So preparations are well advanced. The show is 'Dave Pearson: Colourist' at the 'According to McGee' gallery on Tower Street, York. It opens 1pm Saturday 15th March and runs until 5th April. 

Monday, 27 January 2014

More of that extraordinary find...

Four more examples of the set of large pastel drawings of British Calendar Customs made by Dave and uncovered by Ella last week. I went to see them - they really are huge, most measuring close to two metres on the longest side. How would we frame them - being unfixed pastel they really are quite delicate?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

According to McGee

The next exhibition of Dave Pearson's work, which I've mentioned in several posts as happening in April is, in fact, due to open at 'According to McGee' on Saturday 15th March. 

I happened across this fact as I was searching my diary for something unrelated. In shock, I immediately rang Greg McGee and arranged to travel over to York and visit the gallery. This I duly did on Saturday, meeting Greg and his wife, Ails. 

The gallery is in a fine position facing Clifford's Tower, and is an intimate i.e. small, space; just two galleries but friendly and welcoming. The theme of the exhibition will be 'Dave Pearson, the Colourist', and I've spent the rest of the weekend considering how to do this in the two galleries available. 

One thing I feel sure about is to include a selection of pieces from the 1960s, when Dave was working, in his usual totally focused and all-consuming way, on work inspired by Vincent Van Gogh. I was very close to him at this time and I feel it was Vincent's example that drew him into a new relationship with colour. The early pieces, that Dave said were influenced by Pop Art, and often used colour in a schematic way, slowly gave way to a richer and more complex palette inspired by Van Gogh's own paintings from nature.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A discovery!

I visited Ella at Dave Pearson's studio yesterday to see how things were going with the cataloguing of Dave's work, and also to meet Chris Pearson, Dave's son - and one of the Trustees. 

Ella showed me the progress she was making  and we took a look round the upstairs rooms where she is focussing her work. She has now reached 5400 items in the catalogue and is close to completing the first room - with perhaps another 1000 paintings and drawings still to be catalogued on the first floor alone. Chris, by the way, mentioned that he had several thousand works on paper in his house, in addition to the those in the studio. 

I pointed out to Ella a pile of works on paper that had been unopened since Dave died. These were rolled up in about 10 large rolls. This afternoon Ella opened one of these rolls - and found a series of really beautiful images of Calendar Customs pastel drawings. Excited, she immediately sent me 11 small photographs of her discovery. Four of them are illustrated here, to show their quality.