Date Posted: 13th October 2022

Newlyn Harbour 90 x 80 cms inc frame
group of village houses 64 x 59cm inc frame

The Beacon in Whitehaven is a friendly and interesting place to visit. It sits in pole position on West Strand of the harbour like a lighthouse- you can’t miss it -  and is open for visitors every day except Mondays (I misled you in my last newsletter – sorry).  It combines a museum and gallery and lays on special events and workshops. It’s an important part of the community in these parts.

I went there yesterday to see a very special lady called Saskia. I met her up on the fourth floor behind a heavy green door -  security is tight because she is priceless.  Saskia looks out at the world with a sweet smile which has lasted almost 400 years since her husband, Rembrandt, painted her as Flora, Roman goddess of spring and fertility in 1635. He was doing well financially at that time and she must have loved dressing up in those beautiful embroidered silk clothes holding a large bouquet of what were regarded as expensive exotic flowers (Tulip mania was rife in Holland and bulbs changed hands for unimaginable amounts). What would she have thought if she had known that people would come to stare at her and speculate about her over the centuries?  She was only 31 when she died after giving birth to 4 babies in her 6 years of marriage only one of whom survived.

She’ll be standing there until January 8th.  You can see her for free but you will have to pay a small entrance fee if you are tempted to wander through the museum to see what’s on show and learn more about the local history – it’s worth it for the view alone.

I made a series of West Cumbrian Trails several years ago based on Percy Kelly’s paintings and drawings. They have been very popular going into several re prints. Thousands of people have walked them and seen West Cumbrian towns through Kelly’s eyes especially since they were featured in a BBC Countryfile programme in which Anita Rani and I were filmed walking to the lighthouse on West Pier and struggled up the Fairy Steps to the Fan House and the Candlestick  - chatting along as two Yorkshire women are inclined to do, with fish and chips at Zest on the Harbour afterwards!    (you can still  buy the trail boxes on www.percykelly.co.uk on the merchandise page)

I have recently acquired a few more Kelly paintings and put them on the web site (www.percykelly.co.uk) under works for sale.  I apologise for the poor quality of the photographs - they are framed  under picture glass which reflects like crazy.   When they were framed in the nineties, top quality Museum glass had not been invented or was not readily available. How times have changed.  We can now get UV resistant glass which is clear and totally undetectable (at a price!).  The National Gallery used it to frame Saskia.

  • Life is full of surprises if we only look.  Reminder of another treat – dont forget to  see the Nature Inspires exhibition in Old Tullie House (Sheila Fell, Percy Kelly, Lynn Dennison).  I will be going up to Carlisle next week to see it. Don’t panic – it will be there until Christmas and beyond I believe.