Date Posted: 13th May 2019


This is my all-time favourite Kelly painting. I don’t know why. I used it on the invitation card to the second Kelly exhibition in 1996 and it became the subject of the first all-night queue. The gallery had become well known for waiting until 2.00 pm on the day of the opening before anything was sold.  I stuck to this rigidly despite firm pre- offers. People who were present in person were given a 10 minute priority and then I would turn to the ‘wish list’ of people who couldn’t make it on the day and run around with red spots.. This made the openings fair but nail biting and people turned up earlier and earlier to make sure they got their desired piece. Friendships and relationships were made in that queue. (I’ve written about it in Life Class) and people brought picnics and the Sunday papers and came to enjoy the atmosphere and camaraderie.

A couple who lived a long way from Cockermouth turned up in 1996 and decided to start queuing 26 hours before the official opening. I found it acutely embarrassing to have people on my doorstep while I was tucked up in bed but was relieved when they said their daughter and boyfriend would do the overnight shift! They got it and I beat myself for letting it go. I made a greetings card of it and it sold out.

A few years ago, when I was choosing paintings for the Retrospective, I immediately got in touch with the owners. I really wanted to see Birthday Flowers again. I drew a blank. I couldn’t trace them and believe me I tried hard. The exhibition went ahead without it BUT it came up for auction during that exhibition and I was determined to have it. It now hangs in my bedroom and cheers me up every day.

People keep asking if I will produce some Kelly greetings cards and I have now succumbed and made two. One is Birthday Flowers of course and the other, Yellow Landscape, St Johns in the Vale, is the first Kelly I bought in the first exhibition at Castlegate in 1994. They are A5 and blank inside and can be purchased in a pack of 10 (5 of each) on (You can get them individually at Tullie House, Abbot Hall and the Derwent Pencil Museum. I will widen the scope when I get the time!)

Time is short at the moment as many things are happening. Make sure you are signed up on the web site for the newsletter and all will be revealed. Many people who missed the newly discovered Kelly film and talk at the museum last week are asking for a repeat … I am looking into it and if it’s possible I will let you know.

  • Don’t forget the FAMILY DAY at the Pencil Museum in Keswick on Sunday 19th 2.00 – 4.00..