Date Posted: 6th October 2017

Farm Cottages near Wigton 1974. wax crayons on Corn Flakes packet
2018 Calendar

Exactly 2 weeks  ago I was putting the final touches to the Kelly Exhibition before the opening.  It now seems a long time ago because so much is happening.  Visitor numbers are exceeding all expectations. I keep popping  into Tullie House and each time I see familiar faces (and lots of unfamiliar ones as well)  all eager to talk about Percy Kelly.  An excited woman chased me on Sunday for a signed copy of The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Drawing and laughed as she told me she’d never heard of him before and had just popped in to go to the toilet and had stayed 2 hours.  Three lovely ladies turned up for my talk last Sunday. They had come on the train from Chichester specially (quite a challenging journey) and when I dropped in yesterday delivering yet more calendars and books I noticed an old friend from Ipswich now in his eighties who had just come out of the exhibition. We had a coffee and long chat which was delightful. So after all the months/years of hard solid slog now is the enjoyable time for me and I hope for everyone else.
The e mails, the visitors book and trip advisor comments are gratifying but the most rewarding thing for me this week was meeting a group of young pupils from Distington near Whitehaven who are engaged in a project with local stroke victims.  They sat and watched the 16 minute film without a murmur – and I watched their eyes moving around whenever a painting appeared that they recognised as part of the exhibition. We then wandered round  together and I told them the story behind some of  them - the boat in oils on a piece of driftwood and the cornfield and terrace on the back of a Kellogs Corn Flakes packet. They could easily relate to someone born into one of the terraces of Workington who had achieved so much. But it was the big panoramas of places they recognised that made them really excited as they picked out familiar features, asking really perceptive questions.  Having been told how Kelly lived all his life in tiny cramped houses with no proper studio they  wanted to know how he had managed these big  works.  This is a mystery to me as well.  Did he draft them out on the quay side on these long pieces of cheap lining paper held down by pebbles?  We will never know.  Each child went away with a colour photocopy of one of PK’s  illustrated letters and 2 back catalogues.  Every school along that industrial West Cumbrian  Coast should have the opportunity to see this show.
The  gallery shop is now busy all the time. Everyone wants a catalogue but the calendars are also disappearing fast. To get 14 large bright reproductions of works in the retrospective for £15 is considered a bargain. I think I'd gone a bit soft when I priced them - I didn't want to be left with them but it is now apparent that my fear was unfounded, so even though it’s only October and you’re not thinking about 2018 yet,  get yours now or you may be disappointed as I’ve only  done one print run and don’t intend to do another when they run out as they  obviously have a limited sales window.  Pick them up at Tullie House or buy post free at
I will be in the gallery again Saturday 14th October conducting 30 minute tours of the exhibition at 11am and 2pm and answering questions.   See the Tullie House web site for more details.  £7.50 includes admission and members are free.
See you then perhaps if not before.