Born in Fletchertown, Cumbria in 1969, Helen grew up within West Cumbria, an area which has clearly influenced the art she now produces.
Leaving Cumbria aged 18, to study at the University of Manchester, Helen was to eventually settle in Edinburgh, where she now splits her time between with the Isle of Skye, looking to “get out of the city” as often as possible. With family ties remaining in West Cumbria, Helen also spends much time in and around the areas she grew up in, and uses much of this time as inspiration for her work.
It was in 1998 that Helen’s passion for painting took an even stronger hold and she began to widen her approach to what she was doing. As Helen herself points out “I started to play around with materials, giving up with watercolours and experimenting with chalk pastel, acrylic paint and more recently acrylic inks. I found that I was using brushes less and less, increasingly using my hands to dab, push and smooth out colour. Old credit cards, kitchen towels, crochet hooks and hairdryers all play a part in my painting. Painting is often messy with a random energy, letting the paint do its own thing and then working with the shapes it gives me.”
Having exhibited mainly in Scotland until we discovered Helen, we are delighted to have brought her work south of the border and into her home county.
Percy Kelly was born in Workington, Cumbria in 1918, being one of eight siblings. Despite an early aptitude for drawing, Percy left school at 14 to work for the Post Office. Interrupted by war, he served in the Royal Signals, where his talent for draughtsmanship was utilised in the production of maps. In 1946 Percy returned to Post Office employment, and obsessional painting, working at the Post Office until taking up a full time place at the Carlisle College of Art and Design from 1961 until 1965. In the early 1950s, Percy submitted works to the Royal Academy, Royal Institute and Royal Society of British Artists; all were accepted, and from 1956 until 1963, Percy was a member of The Lakes Artists Society.
Percy’s first solo exhibition was in 1966 at the Rosehill Theatre, Whitehaven, courtesy of Sir Nicholas Sekers, as too was an exhibition in Sloane Street in 1968. In 1969 a solo exhibition of his work was held at the Fermay Gallery, Kings Lynn, and in 1976, a seventy-painting exhibition was held at Abbot Hall, Kendal. His final solo exhibition was held in Troutbeck, Cumbria, 1984.
During his life, Percy rebuffed many approaches to exhibit his work, amongst them from the Crane Kalman Gallery in London, Tib Lane Gallery, Manchester, Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham, and not least from Chris Wadsworth at Castlegate House Gallery. There was much interest in his work during his lifetime, but despite this, only five exhibitions were held; Percy refused to sell all but a very small number of his works.
Percy moved to Norfolk in 1980, and died there in poverty in 1993. After many successful exhibitions at Castlegate House Gallery, the works of Percy Kelly have been shown in two highly successful solo exhibitions at Messums, London.
Born in 1931, Sheila Fell grew up in Aspatria, a typical West Cumbrian mining village. Whilst gaining a place at the Carlisle College of Art at 17, within two years she had obtained a place at St. Martin’s School of Art, London. Here, she befriended Frank Auerbach, amongst other contemporaries, and went on to teach at the Chelsea School of Art.
Sheila Fell held her first exhibition in 1955, courtesy of Beaux Arts, London. It was from this that she met L S Lowry, who purchased a number of paintings from this exhibition, and many more in the years that followed. This was to be a friendship that lasted until Lowry’s death in 1976. Indeed, he assisted her financially to the tune of £3 per week for two of her early London years.
Acclaimed by critics, collectors and her peers, she began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1965, being elected an Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1969, and a fully blown Member of the Royal Academy in 1974.
Sheila Fell died in 1979, aged just 48. It is likely that she only painted some six to seven hundred paintings during her life, but what arguably makes them so powerful is her almost unique ability to convey the emotion inherent in a landscape; not just the landscape itself, but the impact it has on you. As Lowry suggested, Sheila Fell was arguably the greatest landscape painter of her age.
Many of Sheila’s paintings are held in major public and private collections throughout the UK, including the Tate Gallery, Walker Art Gallery and in the Government Art Collection.
In our search for new art talent, we travel much of the UK and visit countless Art School graduation shows during the course of the year. Much of these travels culminate in varying degrees of disappointment, but now and again, quite the reverse occurs. For the first time, in 2014, I visited Wimbledon College of Arts, and was blown away by the work of Jess (Jessica Pigott). Tucked on the top floor of one of the college buildings, I saw large paintings, very large paintings, with more energy, skill with colour and light/dark and sheer boldness than I've seen in a long time. Jess has progressed, and progressed in a unique and wonderful manner.
We've listed below her CV to-date, and what Jess has to say about her own work
2011 – 2014 BA Fine Art: Painting, Wimbledon College of Art
2010 – 2011 Foundation in Art & Design, Wiltshire College
April 2015 - New Talent, Castlegate House Gallery
Aug 2014 - 2015 Clyde & Co Art Awards, London
June 2014 Wimbledon College of Art Degree Show
April – Oct 2014 Capsticks, Wimbledon
June 2012 Open Exhibition, Pound Arts Centre
My work confronts the emotions and individual relationships we have with certain places, reflecting on both urban and rural environments and the pastoral setting in which I grew up. I look to express a sense or spirit of a place and a way of communicating how it feels to be in these places. I consistently revisit themes of alienation and estrangement, but it is the recurrent quality of solitude that pervades much of my work. These depictions are rarely a true record of a particular place, but a combination of memory and experience. I choose subjects that are directly known to us, familiar and quotidian, whilst also ambiguous and open to shifts in mood and sensation. What is familiar and recognisable in these subjects is undermined by the incongruous use of colour and immediate mark-making.
Each painting undergoes a time-consuming process that involves reworking the material over multiple layers. This process of working generates certain outcomes and idiosyncrasies concerning atmosphere, tone and colour, derived from my recollections and feelings towards these evocative places.
Born in Wallasey in 1953, Edward was to become one of the most talented of UK studio potters.
Studying firstly at Cardiff School of Art, and thence the Bath Academy at Corsham Court, Edward was to follow up with a period working with the legendary Ray Finch at Winchcombe Pottery, in Gloucestershire.
Obtaining a Japanese government scholarship in the late 1970s, Edward was to spend almost two years at art school in Kyoto, learning and absorbing an oriental approach to the art of pottery-making that mirrored the inspiration of the likes of Bernard Leach in the early part of the twentieth century. In 1979, Edward held his first solo exhibition, in Japan. The success of this show enabled Edward and his young Japanese wife, Shizuko, to set up home and studio in rural Kyoto. Here Edward continued to experiment with his art, continuing in the Japanese tradition which had decades before been the inspiration for the emergence of what became known as British Studio Pottery.
For five years Edward held successful shows in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, but the pull of his native country drew him and Shizuko back to the UK in 1984, setting up home and studio in Cumbria. Continuing to change and perfect his art, a majority of Edward’s work continued to be sold in Japan. Here, the practicality of his pots was celebrated; they were relatively expensive items to be prized but importantly, used. In the UK, his pots were seen as more pieces to collect and be looked at rather than have a practical function; a very different ethos to the Japanese market he was so successful in. Successful UK exhibitions did, however, follow, with notably the V&A purchasing a number of his pieces.
Edward saw value and merit in all his pots, from utilitarian cups and dishes, to the most exquisite platters and boxes. This value place on the usual, the everyday, was no doubt a product of his time in Japan. What can’t be argued is that Edward’s work displays a quality of form and glaze that truly set him apart from many studio potters of his generation, and why his work is highly prized both in the UK and Japan, today.
Edward tragically died in a mountaineering accident in 2006, aged just 52. We are proud to be working with his family in bringing previously unseen work to collectors, old and new.
A true northern talent, Ian's ability is to convey, through paint, how it was to stand by the land or sea; be battered, at times, by the elements. Ian paints in the open, it's the only way he knows. He doesn't work from photographs back in the studio, he stands with canvas and easel on the fell-side, beach or cliff tops and paints. It's a combination of that uncompromising approach and his natural ability that produce astonishing work, often almost sculptural in his use of paint.
Ian attended Blackburn Collage of Art, obtaining a First Class Honours degree in Fine Art. Elected as a member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts (MAFA) in 2010, Ian went on to win the Dr Barbara Oldham award at the MAFA Summer Exhibition in 2011.
Widely exhibited, from his native North West to major galleries in Wales and the South of England, Ian's works are held in several public collections, including Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Greater Manchester NHS Trust and Blackburn University Centre.
Joan Eardley was born in Sussex in 1921. A tragic childhood, with her father committing suicide when she was just nine years old, she moved with her Mother and sister, Patricia, to Blackheath, London in 1929.
Showing an early aptitude and enthusiasm for art, Joan attended the local art school in Blackheath, but soon won a position at the prestigious Goldsmiths College. Following a family move to Glasgow, Joan secured a place at the Glasgow School of Art in 1940, a move which was to significantly influence the course of her future life and art work. Here she was awarded the Sir James Guthrie prize for Portraiture.
Following spells away from Scotland after graduation, Joan returned and set up home and studio in Glasgow in 1949. Close to the tenements of Townhead, Joan began to paint the children from the “slum areas”. These are regarded as amongst the most powerful and prized of her life’s work; depicting the deprivation and yet humanity within the faces of the children.
In the early 1950s, Joan purchased a cottage at Catterline, a small coastal village close to Stonehaven. Here she began to experiment with both land and sea-scapes, working with paint to depict her surrounding world with a life and energy few had managed before.
Joan was made and associate member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1955, and voted a full member in 1963. Sadly, it was in that same year Joan lost her battle with cancer and died, aged just 42.
Regarded as one of the UK’s most influential and highly respected artists of the twentieth century, her work is held by most of the UK’s best regarded public and private collections, including the Royal Scottish Academy, National Galleries Scotland, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the National Gallery.
Born in Lancaster in 1967, Chris attended the Storey Institute, Lancaster & Morecambe College, Art and Design, before going on to study at the prestigious Falmouth School of Art.
We first came across Chris' work whilst in Cornwall. Not your typical Cornish tourist painting, but more a northern house, in its semi rural surroundings, at night. It was the use of light, and tone that amazed us, and it's that use of light and tone that stands Chris' work apart from most. Whether used within his more urban scenes, or of rock-faces in the Scottish Highland coasts, Chris displays a true painting talent. Suffice it to say, we were thrilled to discover that Chris lives and works on the Lancashire/Cumbria border!
Chris' work has been widely and successfully exhibited across the UK. Notable exhibitions include the famous Beaux Arts, Bath, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal and The Mall Galleries, London, with over 25 solo and 45 mixed exhibitions under his belt.
We're thrilled to welcome Chris to Castlegate House.
Born in Oxford in the latter stages of the nineteenth century, Winifred was an early starter at art school, at just eleven. In 1920 she married the thereafter and now internationally renowned artist Ben Nicholson, whom was to credit Winifred with much of his development in the use of colour.
Jointly part of the “St. Ives” movement (although arguably Winifred was more on the periphery) Ben was to leave Winifred for the famous sculptor Barbara Hepwoth, also a member of the “group”. Following a spell residing in Paris after her divorce, Winifred was to move to Cumberland, firstly at Boothby and latterly at Bankshead, near Lanercost, where she lived until her death in 1981.
Widely exhibited, written about and critically acclaimed, Winifred has become recognised as one of the most enduring and important of British artists of the last century. She is known for her trademark of capturing still lifes through open windows, but her work also spans her trips to both Scotland and Greece, where a more vivid colour palette emerged.
Significant works are held by many prestigious public and private collections, including the Tate, UK Government Collection and Tuille House, Carlisle
Living near Wigton, in Cumbria, Jim is one of the most internationally celebrated and collected UK potters at work today. Potting in the true traditions of British pottery, using his self-built wood fired kiln to achieve a variety of truly wonderful forms and glaze finishes.
Born in 1946, Jim attended the Camberwell School of Art, London from 1972 to 1976. During this time, he spent time on placement working with Ray Finch at the legendary and important Winchcombe Pottery, in Gloucestershire.
For much of the 1980s Jim spent time teaching, passing on what he had learnt, but importantly what inspired him in the making of his pottery. He held positions at Camberwell, Wrexham School of Art and until 1990, at Cumbria College of Art, Carlisle.
Jim has been featured in numerous publications over the years, including British Studio Ceramics of the Twentieth Century; British Studio Pottery in the V&A Collection; A guide to Collecting Studio Pottery and Modern British Potters and Their Studios.
Public bodies which hold Jim Malone's work as part of their permanent collections include the Victoria and Albert Museum, Paisley Museum Glasgow, Liverpool Museum and Art Gallery and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, amongst many others.