A REMARKABLE new exhibition opens in Honley this weekend as part of the fringe events surrounding Holmfirth ArtWEEK.
The collection of paintings being shown at the village’s Lupton Square Gallery tells a fascinating story.
That story is about art, about friendship and about love and loyalty.
The art is that of Harold Blackburn, the friendship is that between Blackburn and another Huddersfield artist, William Beaumont, who was also known for his passion for dialect.
The love and loyalty is that shown by William’s daughter, Kathy Beaumont to the memories both of her parents and of Harold Blackburn in bringing together this exhibition.
“My father and Harold struck up this quite strong friendship. They talked about art and about life. They had a similar ideology. They were kindred spirits in a way,” said Kathy, who now lives in her parents’ home in Golcar.
“Harold did a portrait of my dad and when my dad died, Harold kept in touch with my mother. I think that she would like to have been able to do an exhibition like this.”
That portrait of William Beaumont, and a self-portrait of Blackburn, hang together in the exhibition at Honley which includes other Blackburn paintings given by the artist to his friend.
Blackburn was a prolific artist.When he died in 1980 aged 81, he left Kirklees Council a collection of more than 600 works of art ranging from oils to watercolours, etchings, sculptures, lino-cuts and sketches in pen and pencil.
Perhaps his most well-known creation is the one that many pass every day in Huddersfield town centre.
The 65ft long, eight feet high mosaic on Ramsden House, near the Town Hall, was commissioned in 1967 as a tribute to the textile industry. Paddock-born Blackburn, who worked for 48 years at C and J Hirst’s mill at Longwood, was the ideal candidate to depict the industry which was once so important to Huddersfield.
“Harold was a loner. He was very single-minded, thrifty and reclusive. He would make a meat and potato pie and it would last him all week.”
Not surprisingly, Kathy’s father’s view was that visiting Blackburn and eating with him later in the week was not a good idea!
Sadly, Kathy’s father died of a heart attack when he was only 58. Little wonder then that pride of place in the exhibition at Lupton Square goes to Harold’s portrait of her father, paired with one of his own self-portraits.
There are 15 Blackburn paintings which the artist gave to Kathy’s family plus a number of other pieces on loan to the gallery from the Kirklees collection. These include sculptures as well as painting.
There is memorabilia of the two men as well including some of William Beaumont’s dialect poems and the motor-cycle gloves that Harold gave him.
The Lupton Square Gallery has housed Kathy’s own work in the past and this fascinating tribute to two remarkable local men will run on after artWEEK for almost a month.