Chris Wadsworth
Percy Kelly - Looking East to the Ennerdale Fells
Writer and Art Consultant

22nd August 2013


You know how you Google something and three hours later you are in a totally different world  having gleaned shed loads of irrelevant but fascinating information. Yes, I knew you would. Well having lived in Cumbria for 27 years I’ve just found out that Jonathan Swift (he of Gulliver’s Travels) was allegedly kidnapped by his nurse as a baby and brought to Whitehaven from Dublin until he was 3 - possibly to an isolated pub on the cliff top now inhabited by a strange man and some big dogs?  George Washington’s grandmother is buried in the floral churchyard in the centre of town and a Quaker Oats factory stood on the quayside on which a Tesco now stands selling same product.

This and a thousand other interesting stories have come to my notice with my latest engrossing  project.  Almost a year ago it was that I went with friends from far off places to Maryport on the West Cumbrian coast. As keen Percy Kelly collectors it was a delight to see them discover the source of his work, the places he sat to paint and how some things had changed since he was there. Returning via Allonby I pointed out the cottage where he lived for 12 years, the bridge he painted and drew obsessively and the  narrow cobbled alleyways. We found the gate in the ‘stolen painting’ – and there’s another story.

Back home and full of enthusiasm and several glasses of wine they suggested I should do Kelly trails. This conjured a picture of me, a walking stick with a sunflower on top and a crowd of Kelly fans - no way – but the idea grew and I found myself searching my archive of thousands of Kelly images for material. West Cumbria was important to Kelly, he lived there for 52 years of his life and the bulk of his work stems from it. I returned to that coast line, each time discovering his images everywhere. Places I had written off as dull and run down were fresh and exciting seen through Kelly’s eyes.

The idea was greeted with real enthusiasm by Cumbria Tourist Board and so  my adventure began. Percy Kelly Trails will be launched October 15th– in Maryport - venue to be announced. There are  6 walking trails from Allonby down to St Bees. They vary from easy flat town routes to longer more challenging walks and a 7 mile walk round the South cliff of Whitehaven and on to St Bees. You will be guided solely by Kelly paintings.

There will be 6 individual 20 page illustrated guides for each walk You will also be able to download them or follow them on your phone or I pad.  A Kelly web site is being set up in conjunction with West Cumbria Tourist Board with much more information.

This is merely a pre- quell.  I will keep you informed.


Thank you to all those who have pointed out the locations for art everywhere works. The day following my last newsletter the Art Fairy waved her wand and I heard on the radio that the David Bowie exhibition is coming from the V&A to a cinema near you. It is happening.


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