Date Posted: 8th December 2023

Lino cut by Percy Kelly. Chrismas card c1980

 Percy Kelly used to make a start on his Christmas cards every year in September. Each one was a one-off piece of art with a unique design which he varied as he went along. Some were lino cuts, others hand painted small etchings as well as delicate cut- out cards and if you were very lucky he would decorate the envelope as well. He did many versions of this one when he lived at Pear Tree Cottage in Norfolk at the end of his life which seemed appropriate. They were eventually posted after a frantic last minute rush and he would eagerly await a reaction from recipients who were probably engulfed in their own last minute jobs putting  sixpenny pieces in the pudding and wrapping gifts etc. Joan David proudly showed me her collection received over the years and told me that he had complained to her about the people who didn’t acknowledge receipt saying such unappreciative people would be crossed off his christmas list. This was a warning to Joan in the early days of their correspondence to send him a prompt thank you letter which she did of course – she valued their long distance friendship and he lapped up the admiration that followed.

There has been a large response to my mention of a PK selling exhibition in 2024 at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick to raise much needed funds for them. I can now tell you that, with the invaluable support of Sal and Tony Calvin, who helped with  the Beacon show at the beginning of this year, it will open 30th  March (Easter Saturday) and run until 20th April and will be manned by volunteers so that all the profit will go to the theatre. There will be paintings, charcoal drawings and original prints all of which have come directly from the Kelly Estate … and there is a very surprising story to be told.

Where Kelly is involved there are always surprises and this is as big as it gets. I’ll just say that I got a strange email earlier this year from someone claiming to have a piece of film and a letter to a gallery owner in Paris from Percy Kelly dated September 1964. On further questioning I discovered the owner didn’t know what was on the film (if anything) as it was on an 8mm reel. I was very suspicious - was this a scam? I finally got the film and letter a few months later. With the help of a very good BBC friend (another PK fan) the film is now playable and all will be revealed during the exhibition at the theatre. I will give you more details in the next newsletter.

I am now busily posting off books, cards, trails and catalogues from your orders through the merchandise page on www.percykelly.co.uk and will enclose a personalized message from you on a Kelly card if you wish.

* As usual, rather than posting out cards, I’ve made a donation to Crisis at Christmas, which looks after homeless young people sleeping on the streets. Wishing you all a happy time and however you spend it enjoy the break from routine at the darkest time of the year in this crazy, greedy mixed up world. Join me in wishing for PEACE ON EARTH which seems impossibly unattainable at the moment. PLEASE, PLEASE WILL PEOPLE STOP FIGHTING AND KILLING EACH OTHER AND THE PLANET.