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

3rd September 2012

PERCY IN PERIL

Whitehaven undated.

Poor old Percy is in the wars at the moment. The magnificent panoramic painting  of Whitehaven above belongs to the Kelly estate. I have had the chance to study it carefully lately in an attempt to date it and there are plenty of clues because he painted it before the Loop Road was built. I'm wondering if anyone has old photographs or knows when the Loop Road was built and subsequently all the development around it. Not only is it a superb painting but an historical record as well.

The painting was in the care of relatives for safe keeping but unfortunately it was sat upon! (I know - don't even go there!) and as usually happens when glass is sat upon, it broke. I would not recommend it! Fortunately the painting wasn't damaged but, as it is well over 6 feet in length, it has been a difficult task to get UV glass of those dimensions. It must be UV because the painting is over 50 years old so is susceptible to fading. Anyway it is now restored and hopefully when returned to 'safe keeping' it will be hung on the wall rather than left in a more vulnerable place.

In the last year or so, many of you have told me about a Kelly painting of Maryport Harbour which is hanging appropriately in the Maritime Museum at Maryport. At last I've had time to go and see it. The museum, staffed by helpful and knowledgable volunteers, is a gem of a place at the bottom of Shipping Brow. But I couldn't find the Kelly. On enquiring I was told that the wall on which it hung was discovered to be damp and it had been removed. However the person in charge got it out of store for me to see and it is inded magnificent. Trouble is, it won't be for much longer. It is dated 1970, is gouache on paper (both organic materials).  It is growing a very nice mould under the perspex which is touching the paper. Before long it will have disappeared into itself. The mould will have eaten it. This is such a pity. It belongs to Allerdale Council (and therefore to the public) and the museum committee are now trying to get something done about it. At the very least it must be released from the frame with its perfect mould growing conditions which will cost nothing so no excuses.Then it needs attention from a good skilled conservationist as a matter of urgency.

I do hope it will get that attention and soon be restored to a dry wall in the museum where we can all enjoy it.

It makes me wonder how much public art is mouldering away in council stores.... but I have another book to finish. It's nearly there. Maybe the next project ... ?

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