Date Posted: 14th September 2018

front cover of the book.
Letter to Kim.

I reiterate the words Percy Kelly wrote to his stepdaughter Kim beside his painting of a big jar of humbugs.

I have written this, my first book for children in direct response to the interest shown by the many children who visited the Percy Kelly retrospective at Tullie House in Carlisle. I really enjoyed taking school groups round the show. They were excited by what they saw, asked intelligent questions and could clearly identify with the paintings, drawings and artifacts. I was subsequently invited to see some of the work they did as a result. A book was obviously called for.

Have a Humbug! tells the story of Kelly’s childhood in Workington; his first home in Corporation Road, his first school, his first paint box, his first job aged 14 and the wonderful letters he sent to his step daughters. It is full of colourful drawings and paintings with pages encouraging children to add their own response and make the book their own. Percy used to get into trouble for drawing and painting in books so he would definitely approve. It comes with a pack of Derwent Academy watercolour pencils, a paint brush and a graphics pencil. It was written for children aged 7 - 11 but it has appeal for all ages. Go on – surprise yourself. Pick up a pencil and draw. And don’t tell me you can’t draw a straight line – I’ve heard that one far too many times. Straight lines are not required for drawing!

So how do you get your hands on a copy of the book?  Come to the book launch at the ArtFest at the newly restored Settlement on Castle Hill in Maryport at 5.00 pm on Friday 28th September. You are all invited and you will find a small exhibition of Kelly’s paintings and much more to see and hear.  I hope you can come but If you can’t the book will be for sale on www.percykelly.co.uk/merchandise as soon as it is ready. I will let you know as soon as I get my hands on it.

It’s hard to believe that exactly a year ago I was totally immersed in curating and hanging the Percy Kelly retrospective for the opening on 23rd September.  I was sad when the exhibition ended at the end of February this year but I looked forward to a rest, a holiday, a quiet time with no pressure but I was kidding myself.  It has been non-stop ever since.  Percy went national and international.  The pace has been relentless and I’ve enjoyed every new opportunity that has presented itself. His appearance on Countryfile brought hundreds of new fans. The Kelly trails went into reprint followed by  the reprint of The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Drawing.  I have given illustrated lectures to groups and have met many of you who have bought his paintings from me. ( see what is currently available on www.percykelly.co.uk/gallery).  

And so it goes on. Coming up in 2 weeks is the Artfest in Maryport When Percy met Norman, 28/29th September organized by the wonderful Maryporters. There is a full 2 day programme of events and it is all free apart from the Saturday evening event (£10 to include wine - for more information ring Jan McTaggart on 07814677452 or e mail jmctaggart58@gmail.com)

There is currently a Radio Cumbria programme in the making.  This May the  Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick will bedevoting the whole month to Kelly.. There will be painting and drawing demonstartions, stories and  video and lots of ideas to play with.and there are even bigger National and International projects brewing busily in the background. Be assured I will keep you informed as things firm up.

Never mind my holiday. I’m not the sort to sit on a beach with a book anyway.