Date Posted: 4th March 2023

The Kelly fleet

Its all over at The Beacon. The most successful exhibition ever for them in terms of both attendance and income. Percy has outdone Rembrandt in visitor numbers and not many artists can make that claim.  It’s sad to see it all come down. Generous lenders will get them back to grace their walls  again this week. The 2 lucky people who won the bid for 2 of those for sale (Interior Sekers Silk Mill and Parton looking South) will soon have theirs on their walls as well.

The 3rd -  MT17 in Whitehaven Harbour - has yet to sell. It’s a pencil drawing and slightly smaller than the other two. It is signed and dated 1970 when PK’s marriage had just fallen apart and he was madly in love with Christine Griffith hence his compulsion to re-name the boat Christine (an extra power an artist has!). I’ll try to get a better photo to put on the web.

When I’ve caught my breath I will put some newly acquired Kelly pieces on the FOR SALE page on I will let you know when they are there. In the meantime I have projects ahead, (Oh yes I have!) people to see, a new You Tube video to put together (this time about Vermeer and Brampton artist Charles Oakley – there is a connection) and a load of cleaning and gardening which has been sadly neglected.

Many of you who got to the exhibition may have met Tony and Sal Calvin. They have worked their socks off with trails and talks and enjoyed every minute. We have all gathered stories from you and learned so much more about Percy, Miki Sekers and the silk mills and the town.  Some of you have travelled long distances to make it – from Edinburgh, Durham, Nottingham, Manchester and even further – the prize for effort goes to London based Gary who messaged me on Thursday to say he was setting off next morning  at 5am to drive up and back in  the day!  He turned off the A66 for breakfast with us at 0830 then sped on to Whitehaven. He was still there chatting to people and enjoying everything when I left at 2pm.   A former Sheriff of the City of London walked in on the first weekend taking me completely by surprise. I last saw him at The Old Bailey! (not what you might think!)   A number of local visitors had never been to the Beacon before and even more had never been to Whitehaven so it has been really good for the town.

I met an engineer who had worked for Cunard and went out on its trial voyages  and  then the  maiden voyage of the QEII in 1969   (sadly he didn’t remember PK’s paintings in the state rooms but we have the Cunard  receipt as proof that it really happened!!). We met lots of people who had worked at Sekers and an elderly widow whose husband, Councillor Jimmy Johnstone put the Copeland Collection together in the late 80s and early 90s. He had bought 3 of the paintings in the exhibition from me at Castlegate House. I remembered him as Jimmy and knew where he lived but couldn’t recall the surname. His widow still  lives at the same Whitehaven address and we had quite a long chat about old times.

STOP PRESS;   The biggest find of all is Tony tracing Percy’s MG.  GW57. I’ve been looking for it for 30 years!  It’s in Belgium.   The owner has now renamed it George as Percy  did.  He’s seen it now on You Tube and is thrilled.  More to come on that.


  • NEXT TIME … Tobias and the Angel is now coming up to Whitehaven from the National Gallery. I’ll tell you more  about it when I’ve seen it.