Date Posted: 2nd January 2018

Saltam Pit Whitehaven
Joan David with Percy at Pear Tree Cottage in Norfolk

The Percy Kelly Retrospective has but 4 more weeks to run and what a run it has been so far. Hundreds of people visited over the Christmas period and the visitors’ book is full of positive encouraging comments - some from people I know and some from  others who have just discovered Kelly. The shop is doing a wonderful job and keeps me busy rushing up to Carlisle with yet another car full of books etc.

Don’t miss the final event – An Afternoon of Talks on 21st January which  begins at 1pm  in the gallery with a tour of the exhibition guided by the Tullie House Curator Melanie Gardner who has given me tremendous support in mounting this blockbuster show.

I will be following this at 2.00 in the lecture theatre when I will be demonstrating Kelly’s unique view of his native West Cumbria inviting you to look at familiar places through his eyes. You will see how he developed his own way of looking and recording what he saw.  I will take you through the years in West Cumbria when he teetered on the very brink of massive success and discuss why he threw it all away and died confused, in lonely exile and serious poverty in Norfolk.

At 2.45 Joan David’s son Rob will talk about his encounters with Kelly in Norfolk and in Cumbria. His mother Joan was very important to Percy in his last 10 years in exile.  She generously gave me access to the thousands of letters  which she and Kelly exchanged .  She bravely persuaded him to have his last exhibition in Troutbeck, in 1984 which she organised  (no mean feat). She became my link to Kelly. Even though she was in hospital when he died in 1993, she was key to getting his mass of work to Cumbria. Without Joan I do believe his life’s work would have been lost and this exhibition would not be happening.

After a break the afternoon will finish with the performance of a play Lines of Flight written by academic and activist Alan Beatty. I haven’t seen it  so I  can'ttell you much about it  but I look forward to it.

This promises to be a special day when everyone will learn a little bit more about this complex and exceptionally talented artist. Ring the box office 01228 618700 to book a place or get more information.