Date Posted: 19th March 2023

I’ve just acquired this large Kelly painting. In the absence of a title (not uncommon with Percy) I have called it Harrington. You will have noticed that he had a tendency to do little pencil or biro sketches of some detail he wished to remember within a painting. This time it’s upside down on the left which is a novelty. Lamp posts and telegraph poles were a favourite of his because they gave him an important vertical to balance the work.  I have managed to identify the location of some of his works by the design of the lamp posts which vary in towns and villages throughout Cumbria.  When the twins, Percy and John were 11 their grandfather who lived with the family in Corporation Road in Workington died and the family became eligible for a council house at The Oval, Salterbeck, a short walk from Harrington.  Kelly did many drawings and paintings of the chapel, the harbour and the railway viaduct. This view is looking south from the top of the hill above the railway station.  The image size is 75 x 50 cm ( with frame it is 94 x 70cm)

Three years ago almost to the day I was in the green room at Theatre by the Lake waiting to go on stage to talk about artist Anne Redpath, my Borrowdale friend Rosalie Charlton and the link with the Keswick Museum. It now feels a lifetime away. We were aware at the beginning of the festival of a virus which had begun a long way away in China, had spread to Europe and was killing people but as the week went on it was becoming more serious and  brought the festival to an abrupt end. Ways with Words based in Dartington Devon was one of the first literary festivals and bravely tried to keep it going during the pandemic with the help of their faithful staff but there is now too much stacked against them.  A year or two before covid broke out and changed all our lives Kay found she had an incurable neurological disease of the Motor Neurone variety which has changed her life irretrievably and that of her husband Stephen and their family and all of us who have enjoyed those two weeks of enlightenment, challenge and good books. March in Keswick will never be the same again. Words by the Water was a fixture for many years and vitally important to the theatre in the pre-easter time of year. It bridged the gap between the Christmas show and the Easter performance bringing it to life again with jostling crowds everywhere.

The directors, Kay Dunbar and Stephen Bristow have become close friends and I owe them so much. They made me the writer I have become. They turned up anonymously at the gallery one day in 2004, bought a piece of sculpture and my new book (my first book) The Painted Letters and  offered me a slot at the upcoming Litfest and so my stage debut began. It has been a fabulous journey with several appearances at Dartington Hall and many trips to a villa in Italy to learn more about becoming a writer in the company of some famous (and infamous) lovely people: Blake Morrison, Joan Bakewell, Michael Burke, Kate Adie, Penelope Lively to mention a few. I learnt so much and made lifetime friendships.Kay was awarded an MBE  at Windsor Castle last year for her contribution to literature. Thank you, Thank you Kay and Stephen and your wonderful staff for giving us so much. Kay was honoured with an MBE at Windsor Castle last year for services to literature

You are greatly missed.

On a totally different scale, there is to be a one day Book Festival at the Kirkgate Arts Centre in Cockermouth next Saturday 25th March. It has a line up of 9 cumbrian authors and first up is me at 10.30 talking about life as a gallerist and reading from Life Class at 10.30.  Doors open at 10am  but you must book on the Kirkgate web site



 You will notice that I’ve tidied up the web site and added a few Kelly works for sale but keep watching this space because I hope to add a few exciting small works very soon.