In mid-2014 Barnsley Art on Your Doorstep will be putting on a show of art works by past Barnsley artists called The Hidden Art of Barnsley. This means those who were born in or who were strongly connected with the District. This is the first time that this has ever been done. It will spotlight the brilliance of the achievements by people from Barnsley and will be exhibited at The Cooper Gallery, Barnsley.

The group have discovered over 25 artists so far and are in the throes of contacting galleries to borrow examples of their original work. The group is putting together what they say will be an exhibition that “will be fun, exciting, thrilling and an experience of a lifetime; we want to surprise people by the artists’ originality, by the different ways they have expressed themselves and by beautiful things. We want to show how they worked with the leading national artists of their day. We want to claim for Barnsley some artists who have been acclaimed elsewhere both nationally and internationally.”

Barnsley Art On Your Doorstep will be telling stories about what the artists achieved in their lives. Most of they want to make everyone aware of the inspiring artistic history Barnsley people have. Many people do not know of it.
The group is inviting Barnsley residents to comment on their ideas about the content of the exhibition. They want to attract all ages including families and are interested to hear ideas about possible children’s/family activities and the types of written information you would like to see.

The group discusses using five possible themes for the exhibition;

Engraving of glass blowing, 1840’s

Engraving of glass blowing, 1840’s

Firstly, under the banner of Industry and Art, we could group together those artists that came from families who were deeply involved in Barnsley’s industries. We have 18th century glass makers, early 19th century linen weavers; and two artists from the early 20th century involved in coal mining or glass design. Art and industry lived side by side. We could show images about early glass making and linen weaving as this is not much known about.

Examples of portraits

Examples of portraits

Barnsley has produced many Portrait Painters. One opportunity would be to compare how different artists saw the human face, show different styles and painting techniques and perhaps compare that with photography. Who did the artists paint? What did that say about their social standing? Could they make a living out of painting portraits? Are there other questions we should be looking at?

Examples of landscape painting

Examples of landscape painting

Thirdly, many of the artists painted or sketched the outdoors: Landscape, old buildings of Barnsley, sporting activity and even birds’ nests. There are stunning contrasts between how past Barnsley artists painted the countryside. We could group these next to each other. There are also artists who travelled abroad far and afield and we could tell their story. Would it be interesting to see maps of their journeys?

William Neatby, Manchester School of Art

William Neatby, Manchester School of Art

The fourth theme we have come up with is Decorative Arts which means the design and manufacture of functional objects (furniture, wall paper, tiles, industrial design, features on buildings). This will be difficult to show except by photographs, as often they are bulky or fixed to buildings internally or externally. We could perhaps use slide projection to show this. Barnsley town centre has a lot of decorative art on its buildings and we hope to find volunteers who would like to put together a Spot Decorative Arts in Barnsley booklet.

Design by Edward Liddall Armitage

Design by Edward Liddall Armitage

We have had the idea of putting Mystery and Worship together as a fifth theme. Do you agree they go well together? We have artists who did stained glass, church design, church carving and paintings from ancient myths.

ARtists Abel Hold painted many birds’ nests. We are seeking help from any bird enthusiasts to view them in museums or on-line to identify them. If you can help, we would welcome contact.

Thomas Witlam Atkinson, the architect/artist traveller returned from Russia in 1858 to talk at the British Association for the Advancement of Science, in Leeds. He spoke in the Geography Section about his travels. In the Geology section, a paper on ‘The Permian System in Yorkshire’ was given by Rev. William Thorp. He was BAYD chair’s great great-grandfather, son of Samuel Thorp of Banks Hall, glass maker and coal owner, and grandson of the William Thorp who (with Paul Tate) created Gawber Glass House in 1733. Did they know each other?

Thanks to Margaret Cadman, we have now established artistic links with the family of James Hudson Taylor, missionary of Barnsley. Several members of his family were portrait painters. We are pursuing this further and would welcome any further information from Hudson Taylor historians.

Many thanks to Steve Wyatt for revealing to us the naughty postcard artist Brian Fitzpatrick. They should create a stir at our exhibition! Anne and Ken Nicholls have kindly volunteered to research him.

Thank you to John Clark and his brother David. They have kindly agreed to loan us a fascinating painting of women working in their glassworks in the 1940’s. Will anyone be able to recognize any member of their family? Also thanks for generously donating to us two books about glass making; one by their father Dr Alec Clark on the history of Beatson, Clark and Company, bottle manufacturers and the other an illustrated history of The Glass Works, Rotherham (1751-1951). This was contemporary with: (1) Gawber Glass works (1735-1821) where the Tates grew up; (2) Woods where Kenneth Graham worked for a time. The above is by Rosa Whitlaw who wrote a book about Lionel Percy Smythe. She took lessons from him. Can anyone identify where this is? It will throw light on his history.

The group have been taking part in a number of activities locally; specifically in Barnsley schools.
A podcast has been created on Ernest Moore with year 6 students at Summer Lane Primary School; Scripts written for Horizon CC students’ promotional film; they have made four community radio programmes and have provided information for volunteers event. The group are also planning further talks to various other community groups, such as Worsborough History Group and Mapplewell Ladies Group.

Work with a volunteer researcher or have your own artist to look at.
-Use internet searches, libraries
-Find out who to email for information
-Track down lost paintings or other works
-Find out family details
-Make contact with descendants
-Training and support available via our volunteer coordinator.
Why not contact us now?

16 Victoria Road, Barnsley, S70 2BB
01226 286927

If you missed our first feature on the Hidden Art of Barnsley project and want to see more of the interesting facts that were uncovered, go here >>>

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