A Summer selection
2nd June, 2022 - 6th August, 2022
A constantly evolving collection of work, both contemporary and 20th century Modern British.
A constantly evolving collection of work, both contemporary and 20th century Modern British.
William G Bell 1928 - 2006
William G Bell was born in Barrow-in-Furness on April 20th 1928. Following the death of his mother when he was just ten, he was raised by his grandmother. Due to financial constraints, Bill left school at 14 and went to work at the then Vickers Shipyard in Barrow.
Always interested in drawing, Bill began experimenting with painting in his late teens, soon gaining an interest not in the nearby Lake District, but in the immediate world around him, be it working or leisure.
As a capstan operator and machine shop foreman, Bill had hands on experience of the industrial process. The variety of skills and the environment in which they were employed proved an endless source of inspiration. He was
fascinated by industry, having a lifelong interest in mining, shipbuilding, transport and heavy industries.
When away from Barrow, be it day trips or family holidays, Bill always sought out subjects to sketch for possible future paintings on his return home.
On a holiday to Glasgow for example, he journeyed to the Gorbals, to capture the unique architecture and atmosphere of the place. As with many of the
paintings in the exhibition, the painting of the Gorbals will be exhibited with the preparatory sketches completed on such a trip.
When back home in Barrow, Bill continued to be inspired by what he encountered every day; the shipyards, the pigeon pens, the back streets of Askam. All were a constant source of inspiration.
The shop floor at Vickers proved to be a somewhat fertile ground for young artists. Not only was Bill painting, whenever he could, what he saw about him, he was also working with a young apprentice, Keith Tyson, who was to later become a Turner Prize winner.
Bill had other interests. He was a talented engineer, an enthusiastic owner of three classic cars and an avid bibliophile. Painting was, however, his first love and abiding passion throughout his whole adult life.
Bill mostly worked in oils, occasionally in watercolour, pastel and charcoal. He was a founder member and President of the Barrow Society of Artists, a member of the Lakes Artists Society and was widely exhibited, from the 1950s until his death in 2006, including the Royal Academy London, the Royal Scottish Academy, Abbot Hall, the Harris Museum, Preston and the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. One of Bill’s paintings, Bath Time, chosen by L S Lowry, was even filmed for a BBC television programme in 1958.
Bill’s paintings are instantly recognisable. His subject matter displays little of the romanticism of many of those painting Cumbria, both then and now. At times, purposefully naive, always honest. Bill has left a legacy; a record of how life was in Cumbria and beyond from the 1950s onwards.
Peter Coker was born in London in 1926. Studying initially at St Martin’s School of Art from 1941, Coker moved with his family to Manningtree in Essex in 1962. Whilst continuing to teach at St Martin’s (post-graduation) Peter also had occasional tenures as a teacher of painting at Colchester School of Art.
Throughout his career, Peter Coker held solo shows at many of the capital’s most prestigious commercial galleries, including the highly respected Zwemmer Gallery. During this time Peter continued to exhibit regularly at the Royal Academy, being elected an Associate Academician in 1965 and a full-blown Academician in 1972.
In October 2002 a major retrospective of the work of Peter Coker was held at the Chris Beetles Gallery, coinciding with the publication of a major authorised illustrated biography of the artist, with contributions from Richard Humphreys of the Tate Gallery.
Peter Coker died in Colchester, Essex, on 16 December 2004. His work is held in many of the most prestigious private and public art collections, including the Tate, Royal Academy, Abbot Hall, National Galleries of Scotland and the Royal College of Art.
John Bellany was born in Port Seton, a coastal town in East Lothian, Scotland. Born into a fishing family, both his father and paternal grandfather captained fishing boats.
Regarded as one of the most notable British artists of the 20th century, he was viewed as an outstanding student at Edinburgh College of Art from 1960 to 65, during this time gaining the Andrew Grant Scholarship in 1962, taking him to Paris. He went on to win the Burstain Award to attend the Royal College of Art in London in 1965, where he studied under Carel Weight and Peter de Francia.
In 1968 he became Lecturer in Painting at Brighton College of Art and 1969 – 1973 he was Lecturer in Painting at Winchester College of Art.
He moved to London where he was the visiting Lecturer at the Royal College of Art. It was during this period that he separated from his first wife that his reputation for being a heavy drinker began. From 1978 until 1984, Bellany was Lecturer in Painting at Goldsmith College of Art. He remarried in 1978, but his second wife spent long periods of time in hospital suffering with schizophrenia which contributed to his increased bouts of heavy drinking, a “curse” that was to persist throughout his life.
In 1986 Bellany was given the first solo show ever at the National Portrait Gallery, and a solo show at the National Portrait Gallery, Scotland in 1986. In 1988 he survived a pioneering liver transplant. His surgeon Sir Roy Calne said he was the only patient he had known that had gone back to work the day after surgery.
John Bellany died in 2013, he was found in his studio clutching his paintbrush.
Works by John can be found in The Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, National Galleries of Scotland, to name but a small few.
Among Bellany’s honours are a Major Arts Council Award (1981), Athena International Art Award (1985), Royal Academy’s Wollaston Award (1987).
He was made a Royal Academician in 1991 and awarded the CBE.
Rebecca Swainston’s work is expressive, vibrantly colourful and psychologically charged featuring powerful and memorable figures with animals, objects and intricate patterns. Her skilled draughtsmanship shows itself throughout in the vitality and responsiveness of her line and the variety of her mark making.
Rebecca exposes the human condition; its complexity, vulnerability and strength, juxtaposing ideas about physicality with the conscious and subconscious mind. There is a strong narrative throughout the work with many layers of meaning giving the work the ability to fascinate, challenge, hold, and reward the viewer’s attention.
Themes include transformation, misapprehension, transgression, memory and projection, and these ideas are often carried by the presence and characteristics of domestic and feral creatures. The images arise from her own visual and personal experiences and from the beliefs and events in her own and other cultures
Rebecca has a Masters from Chelsea School of Art and a first in Fine-art Printmaking from Winchester School Art. She became teaching fellow and lecturer at Winchester following her MA and continues to mentor both established and emerging artists
Oil on gesso panel
75 x 60 cm
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 Peter Richmond in Isleworth, Middlesex in 1922, Peter went on to add Miles to his given name in the 1980’s, thereafter being known as such.
Initially studying at Kingston upon Thames school of art (now known as London South Bank University), Miles Richmond spent the duration of the Second World War working on the land as a conscientious objector, much to his family’s chagrin; his father worked for the Admiralty and his brothers served in the armed forces.
In 1946 Miles moved to London to study at the Borough Polytechnic in Southwark under the tutelage of the famous David Bomberg, a route shared by other young students including Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and Dennis Creffield. In 1947 he became a founder member of the influential Borough Group of artists. Here Miles Richmond was producing paintings that were heavily influenced by the early cubists and inevitably by his tutor, Bomberg.
Richmond and his wife moved Aix en Provence and then onto Ronda in Andalusia, Spain, where Bomberg was running his own art school; Richmond was to teach at this school for twenty years. After Bomberg’s death in 1957, Richmond taught at the International School in Spain. Miles Richmond moved back to England in the 1979, eventually settling in Middlesbrough.
In 1992 Richmond painted one of his most celebrated commissions, a 36 foot wide mural for the newly named London South Bank university to celebrate both it’s centenary and it’s elevation to a university and in homage to David Bomberg
Miles Richmond died in Middlesbrough in 2008 surrounded by his family.
June Bennett 1935 - 2013
June Steer was born in Grange-over-Sands in 1935, being the second of four sisters, their father being the professional at Grange over Sands-Golf-Club.
June showed a great talent for painting in her teens, encouraged by her uncle, Tom Armes, himself a professional artist. After leaving school at Ulverston Grammar, June began a five year course studying Art at Lancaster College of Art, and in her final year, Leicester College of Art. It was during her studies at Lancaster that June met Mike Bennett, with the two married in 1959. In these early years, June began to exhibit her work, and in 1957, she had work shown at the annual exhibition of the Society of Women Artists at the Mall Galleries, London.
June continued to paint after her college years, but it was whilst she, Mike and her two sons, Justin and Giles, now themselves professional artists, were living in Yorkshire, that she began in earnest to develop her skills toward a new medium, namely silver and gold. To this degree, June attended a Silversmithing course at Wakefield School of Art.
Soon Mike left his teaching post at Bretton Hall, to become a full-time professional artist. The family lived briefly in Lincolnshire, before moving back into "home territory" and to Seascale on the West Cumbrian coast. It was at this point that June began to exhibit her jewellery in a wider capacity, including such venues as the Goldsmith's Hall London, Park Square Gallery Leeds, Bluecoat Gallery Liverpool and Abbot Hall, Kendal, becoming a Committee Member at Northern Arts, and the Guild of Lakeland Craftsmen.
Her jewellery was always free, richly textured with obvious references to the natural world; plants, landscape, poppy fields etc., and in many ways a foretaste of her painted works to come.
It was at this point, around 1985, that June began to paint again. She abandoned her jewellery workshop, disposed of all of her equipment and immersed herself in Oil and Turpentine, working alongside Mike; a true artistic partnership, but very much their own people and artists.
Colour and texture were transformed into her individual, inspired view of the world. as Mike says, "it was as if the floodgates had suddenly burst open, and paintings flowed out of her in a frenzy of activity." Bold, richly textured and colourful works began to pile up in her studio.
June's first solo exhibition was to be held at Castlegate House Gallery in 1988. Ten further highly successful shows followed over the following two-plus decades, with her work also being exhibited in London, Edinburgh, Cambridge and the Laing Gallery Newcastle. Works were also acquired for the House of Lords collection, Tullie House Carlisle, The Copeland Collection and many private collections within the UK, mainland Europe, the US and Australia.
June liked to work "on the spot", working on canvas or making colour studies for development back in her studio. Her first exhibition at Castlegate House was such a success that June was able to acquire her "travelling studio", a bright orange VW Camper Van, her pride and joy, enabling her to work out in the open in almost all conditions!
June loved the sea, the estuary and its surrounding landscape. She saw them with a very personal and powerful vision. She was able to transform a seemingly ordinary landscape into something vibrant, exciting and visionary. Perhaps her greatest legacy was her ability to make people look at the world with new eyes. Seeing rhythms, textures, colour and patterns that had eluded them previously. People who own her work often say that her works lighten their lives, giving off a warmth and power that can change their mood.
June was a dedicated artist, never happier than with brush in hand. In her final year, against all the odds, she continued to grapple with pictorial ideas and compositions. She finally completed, three weeks before she died, what was to be her final painting; a new vision of trees on the other side of the Solway coast. This was to be an oft-returned to theme, but each time, over the years, returned with a new perspective, freshness and delicacy. The painting is exhibited here as June's Trees; Last Painting.
Alongside her land and seascapes, June also produced some fine portraits, both as commissions and as her own artistic expression. A number of these works can also be seen within the exhibition.
Mike and June Bennett have been represented by Castlegate House Gallery for over twenty five years. Indeed, many will have seen our sixty-year retrospective for Mike late last year. It's a great shame that we weren't able to hold this exhibition for June whilst she would have been able to walk amongst the works herself, in her trademark bright pink lipstick. This is a celebration of not just June's work, but of June; from the remarkably early paintings of the 1950s, signed in her maiden name of June Steer, right up to her very last work. It's a vision of June, and of her vision of the world around her, in all of its moods, shapes, colours and lights.
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.
Mike Bennett was born in Windermere, Cumbria in 1934. Studying at Lancaster and Leicester Colleges of Art from 1950-56, he was to meet June, a fellow student during this time, with them marrying in 1959 after Mike concluded a two year spell of National Service.
Already aware of, and influenced by a new wave of British artists, such as Vaughan, Hitchins and Sutherland, Mike spent much time during his college years painting at home for his own pleasure and development, and a number of paintings from this era are shown within the exhibition.
Starting off married life employed as art teachers in London, Mike and June would spend a huge part of their spare time in and around Bond Street and Cork Street, the Tate and Whitechapel Art Galleries. What was happening in the art world, and particularly within London, was having an impact on them, and it was this impact that Mike was to share with his students in his next teaching post from 1960 at the King Edward VI School in Nuneaton.
Mike loved his teaching role, and with it came the energy and physical studio space to allow him to let his artistic creativity explode. Recognition of Mike's work and talent grew, with successful exhibitions within many parts of the UK, including London, Nottingham and Leeds. In 1965, the newly-growing family moved to Yorkshire, where Mike had secured a teaching post as Lecturer of Painting at Bretton Hall (now better known as the Yorkshire Sculpture Park). He continued to exhibit his work, gaining further national recognition and critical acclaim, particularly once taken up by the Park Square Gallery, Leeds, one of the leading provincial lights for artistic talent. Mike's work was also exhibited at this time along side that of Sheila Fell and Sandra Blow at the influential Ashgate Gallery in Farnham, Surrey.
Further accolades followed Mike's acceptance into the Artists' International Association (AIA), a prestigious art group exhibiting work in it's Soho gallery. Mike was also accepted into the Midland Group of Artists. Despite its provincial underpinnings, it was regarded as one of the leading art groups during the 1950s and 60s, with Mike's work hung along side that of David Hockney.
The 1970s were to be a turning point for Mike and June. Moving to Seascale, the decision was made and both gave up formal educational employment to concentrate fully on their respective art careers. It was also at this time that Mike's work began to take on a more figurative bent. As Mike says "my work began to develop with much more realism, based on the landscape and the sea, sky and hills, but still retaining the ideas and shapes and movement of the earlier work".
Mike's work continued to be exhibited throughout the decade in both mixed and solo shows, including Abbot Hall, Kendal. As the decade progressed, Mike began to experiment with etching and was awarded a Northern Arts Printmaking Bursary in 1979 and 1980, working at Lowick House printmaking studios.
Moving from Seascale to Port Carlisle, Mike and June spent the next thirty years looking out over the estuary; both influenced by its light and movement. During this time, Mike's work developed, but themes remained, and lineage can be seen back to even many of the large abstract works of the 1960s. Mike exhibited at Castlegate for over two decades. He deservedly has a reputation as an accomplished and highly gifted artist.
Mike sadly passed away in October 2016.
Cathy Lewis must surely be one of the foremost figurative sculptors at work in the UK today. A graduate of Glasgow School of Art, Falmouth School of Art and the University of the West of England, Cathy has built a reputation for producing exquisite and striking contemporary social commentaries through sculpture.
In Cathy's own words, "Most of my work is concerned with ideas about culture, social history and identity. I often combine serval ideas in one piece, each influencing the outcome of the work. For me, art is as much about questions as answers."
After many years working from her studio in Bristol, we're thrilled that Cathy has now ventured north and is living and working in Cumbria; we're very proud to be exhibiting Cathy's work at Castlegate House.
Born in 1988 in what was then still the Soviet Union, Katya was to initially train in Social Psychology at the St Petersburg State University. In a change of direction Katya moved to France to study at the Paris College of Art from 2014-15, thence 2015-17 at the ICA Moscow, studying “New methods in contemporary art” and from 2017 in London, where she plans on staying having just completed her MA in painting at the Royal College of Art.
Already with numerous successful exhibitions in St Petersburg, Belgrade, Paris, London and Moscow, amongst others, Katya has also secured numerous artist residencies, most recently in Normandy and Moscow.
We first came across Katya’s work as an entrant to the inaugural Castlegate Prize in 2020. Ultimately reaching the final shortlist and one of the works which was in the running to take first place, we were struck by the sheer energy and visceral nature of how she handled paint and subject, colour and texture; a very large painting, "Paediatric Surgery" draws you in, immerses you in its complexities and has the key quality of something you would never grow tired of owning; so much so we acquired it for ourselves.
To explain Katya’s approach and inspiration, we can think of no better way than you turn to her own words:
“My practice deals a lot with the concepts of history, memory and the past. Being born in the Soviet Union, I grew up surrounded by the massive diversity of people’s perspectives on their Soviet past, leading to a complete impossibility to have any coherent picture of what was actually going on in everyday life. I also witnessed the changes in history - in my lifetime I have seen ideological replacements of perspectives over past events at least three times - Soviet, post-collapse and contemporary Russia. I ended up feeling that if history is so biased and subjective, I need to make my own one, and if I cannot travel into the past and check it myself, then I will put my presence in it by the fictionalization of history. As a child, I had a practice of drawing over pictures in magazines, photographs and whatever material with pictures of people. Not necessarily mocking them, I liked to paint over it, adding something new. This practice of painting over pictures combined with the reflections on history as an ideological tool brought me to my current practice. I take imagery, documenting the past, project it on canvas in order to completely change and fictionalize it. I mostly take images from the distant past before my birth with the events I cannot possibly have personal experience of. Quite often I use family archive photographs. Painting thus becomes a space for an intrusion into the body of someone's past, which I do with my body as a painter. This brings me to a bigger scale, where painting becomes a physical insertion of my body into the documented past I'm dealing with.”
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.
When scouring the UK looking for modern British (20th century) works for the gallery, we often come across wonderful artworks which are unattributed or by less well-known names than we usually deal in, but which have strong appeal and ooze that "50s and 60s" style which revolutionised British art. We've decided rather than letting these works pass by, we'll acquire them and bring them to the gallery and provide others with the opportunity of owning some wonderful work but benefiting from a more modest budget.
Oil on canvas laid on board
51 x 43 cm
Watercolour on paper
27 x 34 cm
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.
Our usual route to spotting art-talent is when on our travels or visiting art school graduation shows. The other route is where artists approach us; this occurs on average four or five times each week, with artists looking for one-off shows or wider representation; however, in the last ten years we’ve probably accepted an opportunity presented in that manner no more than five or six times. David was one of those.
We initially went to visit him at his studio on the South Bank, the converted old TV studios immediately south of the Thames, next to the National Theatre. We were intrigued by his seemingly mature accomplished work, especially for an artist young in years (David was born in 1996 and is a recent graduate of City and Guilds London art school). The photos didn’t (and don’t) do David’s work justice; tactile, organic and balanced, we’re very pleased to be showcasing his work.
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ESTATE OF THE LATE NORMAN CORNISH
One of the most celebrated of the mining painters of the last century and this, Norman Cornish was born in 1919 in Spennymoor, County Durham.
As with most of his generation, he began work in the pits at an early age, but was driven to paint at a similarly early age, and was accepted into the Settlement at the age of 15, later to become known as The Pitman's Academy.
Exhibiting with his peers at the Laing Gallery, Norman Cornish held his first exhibition in 1959 at the Stone Gallery, Newcastle, one of, if not the leading contemporary art gallery in the North. There he exhibited with LS Lowry and Sheila Fell, and in 1963 was the subject of a TV documentary by a young Melvyn Bragg about both Norman and Sheila.
In 1966 Norman Cornish left the work of a pitman and became a full time artist. Continuing to live in and amongst the mining community continued to provide him with a seemingly endless source of material from which to create his paintings. His work is a wonderful record of the life of a northern mining community, at work and at leisure, and one that is highly sought after across the UK and internationally. Norman sadly died on 1st August 2014, aged 94.
Castlegate House Gallery is proud to represent the estate of Norman Cornish, working with his family, and has a number of Norman Cornish paintings for sale depicting scenes from his time living and working in the colliery town of Spennymoor. If you would like more information, please call 01900 822149.