Date Posted: 21st December 2017


It’s the shortest day today – things can only get brighter from now on. Over here in the North West we have managed to escape the snow  so far – we’ve only had a picturesque dusting on the tops.

Nothing has deterred the people pouring into the Kelly Retrospective at Tullie House.   Everyone I meet is talking about it.  I have been stopped by people in the street, the supermarket, the cinema and theatre  to tell me they had no idea of the stretch of Kelly’s talent. Their eyes have been opened.  Artists alter our perception of things. They make us look at things in a different way.

Among the 140+ works in the exhibition there are many which have never been exhibited before and many more which I haven’t seen since I sold them in 1994 in the first show after his death.  I have now posted catalogues all over the world including Iceland, Norway, New York and New Zealand and the feedback is so positive and encouraging.. 

The exhibition is having an extraordinary and unexpected emotional impact on visitors. One of the gallery stewards tells me that it is reducing people to tears.  I must admit that it made me cry the day it all arrived on a van  in a mad jumble  at Castlegate House in 1993. I remember seeing Crosby Villas,  one of the most popular pieces in this show and one of the first to sell in the first exhibition, spilling over the top of an over- full bread tray. My face was  wet with tears, mostly relief that all his work was now safe.  Later in the studio photographing and recording every piece was a sobering experience.  Many weren’t signed even fewer were dated  and even fewer still were titled.  Why would he need to do that if he was keeping them all for himself?  It also gave him an excuse when people begged him to sell – he could say they weren’t finished if they weren't signed and he wasn't interested in where he had been sitting when he painted them.  I was acutely aware that I was seeing some works which had never been seen before by anybody: things he had hidden away for decades. I was touching things that only Kelly himself had touched, particularly his early works when he was developing  the talent he’d been born with which he never felt he had earned . (He hated anyone to touch his work or even look at it sometimes.)  I will always remember those  4 months when I had Kelly all to myself; it was an escape from the realities of life giving me a deep sense of peace at a difficult period in my life.  Again when the exhibition was hung  at Tullie House this September,  it was the first time I had seen it all together in one place and  I was overcome with emotion which caught me by surprise.  For me it is a room full of memories.

The exhibition continues until 28th January and is open every day except 25th, 26th December and 1st January 2018. (Monday – Saturday  10 – 4, Sunday 12 – 4) There is something to interest everyone and Tullie House is child friendly. So when the family have all had enough to eat and drink and enough of box sets and television;  when  the children are arguing  over video games and Aunty Doris is snoring by the fire or you’ve lost  everything at Monopoly once again,  refresh yourselves at Tullie House with Percy Kelly. I might see you there.
Peace and good will to you all. 

PS I made a bad mistake in my last newsletter. I credited The Tate with the new gallery in Abu Dhabi – sorry Louvre. Pardonez moi!  None of you pointed it out which means  you either skip the newsletter or you are a very polite bunch. I’d like to believe the latter.