Date Posted: 11th October 2018

David Heckles
Joan David in the garden at Castlegate House

Many years ago David Heckles, a solicitor from Ipswich, made his first visit to Castlegate House and he was hooked. He was very quiet and reserved but I got to know him well and we shared many a cuppa in the kitchen. One day as he told me he was making his will and wondered what to do with his 13 Percy Kelly works (some purchased from Castlegate and some from Messums in London’s Cork Street.)  I suggested Tullie House because I knew they didn’t have any at all and, as the county gallery, I thought they should.

I last met David at the retrospective last October. We had lunch together and enjoyed the exhibition. He was such a modest man that he thanked me for his very personal tour of the show when in fact the pleasure was all mine.

David died in March aged 86. At a meeting with Tullie House we decided to have a special showing of these 13 works when probate had been granted. Like Topsy, this has grown!  Tullie House already had a collection from Percy's second wife Christine who died in 2009. Mainly preliminary drawings and prints, it is valuable ‘work in progress’ which informs later finished works (she had already given most of her collection to her 3 children which were sold on their behalf at Castlegate alongside the Lowry exhibition in 2006)

It then gathered momentum because Joan David’s son Rob had donated one of his mother’s favourite Kellys – Poppy seed heads – last year during the retrospective. So, a good exhibition was beginning to emerge. When Rob David and his wife Sue heard of the plans, they generously donated their painting of Whitehaven and added a few of Joan’s paintings and letters which they had already willed to Tullie House.

And so it goes on. Some of the works I own which have never been seen before are relevant to the show so I have donated those as well.

I can feel your excitement building.  ‘When is this?’ you cry.

As it happens it will be Percy Kelly’s 100th birthday on 3rd November! The LEGACY exhibition will open on that day and continue until 24th February 2019 so there’s plenty of time to catch it.  It is quite different from the retrospective. It is a small intimate show in the old gallery at Tullie House which is the room in which Kelly did life drawing in the early 60s when it was used as part of the Art College.  I can feel his presence in that room quite strongly - it's probably my fanciful imagination at work!  It is not exactly as I remember it. The cupula which was a lovely feature is now blocked out by a false tiled ceiling. Maybe a ‘bring back our cupula’ campaign would help.

I will be around all day on Saturday 3rd and on some other days throughout the exhibition. There will be events during the period of the show. All will be revealed in due course. There are other things in the pipeline. Just keep on reading the newsletter then you won’t miss anything.


HAVE A HUMBUG is selling well despite my being too busy to distribute it properly as yet.  Makes a good Christmas present for young and old. Buy it on line on this website (merchandise page), at Tullie House or in local bookshops as well as Amazon.  Feedback is all very positive.  They love the story and the art pack that comes with it.