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

14th September 2013


Arrangements for the launch of 6 Percy Kelly trails on the West Cumbria coast have now been confirmed.  You are invited to the launch at The Wave Centre in Maryport at 12 noon on Wednesday 16th October.  (The date I gave you last time has been pushed on a day).  This is something not to be missed.

If you can come – and I hope you can – you must respond to  by 10th October.

There will be a buffet and presentation of the trails and a possible opportunity to walk part of the Maryport trail together to get the flavour of it.

These gritty industrial coastal towns, rich in natural resources, are full of history and interest.  They appealed to Percy who lived in West Cumbria for more than 50 years of his life. To walk where Kelly walked, sit where he sat and see it through his eyes is a fascinating experience. Setting the trails up has been a revelation to me.  It has broadened my understanding and respect for this complex genius.  I have identified some of the locations of paintings I have handled in the past which were a mystery to me.  I have walked from the house where he was born in Workington to the docks that he drew from an early age and tried to imagine how a small boy would see it.  I have been invited into Glen Cottage in Allonby where he lived for over 12 years, stood in the small room he used as a studio and sat in front of the stone fireplace he built in the sitting room. I’ve talked with people who remember him in these towns and villages.  I tracked down a suite of drawings that I ‘persuaded’ his son Brian to donate to Haig Pit in 1994 after it had been purchased by the local community. They have been carefully looked after by the dedicated volunteers repairing and restoring the pit head and machinery.  Climbing up some obscure path or turning a corner and finding his view has at times given me a spooky feeling of his powerful presence.  To walk from the bustling harbour at Whitehaven along the cliffs to the eerily isolated smugglers' beach at Fleswick where he sunbathed, wrote an illustrated letter to a friend and made the painting that I recently held in my hands was a strange feeling.

The Percy Kelly web site which works in conjunction with the Western Lake District web site will go live on 8th October - a week before the launch.   You will then be able to download the trails or purchase the booklets from it. Dare  I suggest a download to take with you when you do the trail to keep the guides in a pristine state (I would say that wouldn’t I ?). They are being printed locally at the moment.

You will also be able to buy the booklets at the launch, at places on each route and also at Castlegate House in Cockermouth . The gallery will be showing a small exhibition of Kelly paintings.  The full colour 20 page booklets, with trail maps and full of Kelly’s  images,  can be bought individually or as a set of all 6 in a presentation boxed folder.

 I will keep you up to speed and give you more details when the web site launches.

This has been a very exciting project. Hope you come along and share my excitement at the launch.




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