Date Posted: 11th November 2021

Figure II, etching 38 x 34 cm framed size.
Lily in a pot!


Good news. We have reached and surpassed our target of 300 artworks for our 3rd ANON fundraiser. We have added works by Sir Chris Bonington, Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Greenland, Julian Cooper, Marie Scott, Ceri Allen and many more. Thank you everyone for your generosity and efforts.

I do enjoy opening the post at the theatre and I gasped when I opened a larger envelope postmarked St Ives in Cornwall. It contained an etching from 93 year old artist John Emanuel which is far too big for a cd case  - John has sent it as a donation to the theatre.  It is now beautifully framed and we will hang it separately requesting silent bids for it. The highest bidder will be notified at the end of the exhibition on 12th December.

I used to show John Emanuel’s work at Castlegate House. He was one of the elusive artists I had to search for in the early pre-web and google days of the gallery. I first saw his work in a friend’s flat in Hackney - two life studies with the figures melting into the landscape. She had bought them in a London gallery and had no idea where he worked and so my search began. I had just about given up when a wonderful coincidence happened. I was out training for a big sponsored bike ride one evening after I’d closed the gallery for the day and saw a jazz singer I knew catching the last rays of sun sitting on the wall of her house at Wythop Mill near Cockermouth. She waved and offered me a drink.  I screeched to a halt and back-pedalled. Who could resist? When I went inside I was so surprised I nearly dropped my G&T – she had several lovely paintings by John Emanuel. What’s more I learned that he came up from Cornwall and stayed with her and he had visited Castlegate House every time. How had I missed that? She said he was coming up for Christmas and she’d tell him to introduce himself. The rest is history. I have seen John and his wife Janet every Christmas since until 2 years ago when the drive from St Ives became too much.

John has close links with Cumbria. He was born 1930 in Bury Lancashire but his parents moved to Barrow in Furness at the start of WW2 and he was evacuated to a farm on Shap Fell for safety. He moved to St Ives in 1964 and has had one of the historic and much coveted Porthmeor studios since 1983. He is a well respected artist in this town with a great artistic legacy. I love to visit him there and share a brew dreaming about all the famous artists who have sat there before me. When Tate St Ives opened in 1993, John was commissioned to make a celebratory etching to mark the occasion and Janet his wife wrote ‘Gasworks to gallery: the story of Tate St Ives’.

So when you come to see Anon3 at Theatre by the Lake and possibly take your pick from all these masterpieces, you can see the Emanuel etching on an adjoining wall. It is the only one that is not anonymous but at 93 I think we can allow him that. The exhibition runs from 20th November – 12th December so you can come back at a quieter time to look at everything more calmly (check opening times on This is going to be an exciting and fun exhibition after the dark times we have experienced.

I am looking forward to meeting some of the generous contributing artists. Saturday 20th November is promising to be a hectic day and I doubt I will be able to chat with you then. I will be at the theatre on Sunday 21st and will probably have more opportunity to celebrate with you. I will do my best to be present at the exhibition at some point on  27/28th  November as well as 4/5th and 11th/12th December to meet artists and punters, old friends and new.


* Sadly Jimmy the ginger tom who has contributed to the other 2 Anon exhibitions has long  gone through the great cat flap in the sky and his present successor is a pure white and orange Persian who is far too posh to paint! She has good artistic taste though – see her above in her favourite place curled up in the Edward Hughes pot on my desk.