Date Posted: 30th October 2018


I can feel excitement mounting as we approach Percy’s centenary anniversary. Wherever I go I meet people who want to talk about him and the LEGACY exhibition opening at Tullie House on Saturday. Since Line of Beauty closed in February there has been a feeling of sadness. People are definitely ready for another Percy ‘fix’ and it is appropriate for it to open on his birthday 3rd November. LEGACY is a smaller, more intimate exhibition in a room in the old Tullie House part of the museum. There is the added bonus with NEW LIGHTS - an interesting exhibition of work by living northern artists - showing in the big gallery which should not be missed.

There is a superb painting of Whitehaven one of Percy's favourite subjects in the Legacy show. This is one of the harbours that provided him with the high panoramic viewpoint he loved. It also offered him the linear patterns - verticals and horizontals essential to the balance of his compositions.

In 1971 when Percy and Chris Griffith, who was about to become the second Mrs Kelly, were living at Swallow Hill in Distington, he made two beautiful pencil drawings of Whitehaven harbour each with a fishing boat in the foreground. He rather touchingly 'renamed' one of the boats CHRISTINE and the other PERCY. The latter which is illustrated here demonstrates his seemingly effortless self assurance and formidable drawing ability. People often ask what it is that makes Kelly’s work so attractive often emotional and so satisfying. I can only say that it’s an indefinable quality. Don’t try to put it into words – just soak it up and enjoy it.

Children are responding well to Percy.  HAVE A HUMBUG, Percy Kelly’s drawing book, is getting into the schools in West Cumbria and so am I - telling them more about Kelly and his importance to the area in which they live. His images make them much more aware of their own surroundings. The role of the artist is to change our perception of the things we see. Kelly’s work undoubtedly does just that.

So I’m looking forward to seeing you at Tullie House during the course of the Legacy exhibition which goes on until February 24th. The shop at Tullie House is stocking up with Kelly items including the recently published HAVE A HUMBUG which comes with a creative package attached so it’s a good place to think about early Christmas shopping.

* People are constantly asking me where they can buy works by Kelly. There aren’t many around – those who have them tend to hang on to them - but you will find THE PERCY, WHITEHAVEN and a few more as well for sale in the GALLERY section of this web site in the PAINTINGS FOR SALE box. There are original prints and etchings in the PRINTS FOR SALE box too.

**If you can’t get to Carlisle in person you can buy the books and trails on this web site under MERCHANDISE. They will be quickly posted out to you or to any address you nominate.