Take a tour of Barnsley in 1932 through the eyes of artist Kenneth Graham 1900-1979 in a new exhibition at the Cooper Gallery which runs until Saturday 7 September. I went to view it at the weekend and it’s pretty good. If you’re interested in local history or even something as random as local pubs of the past, check the exhibition out. The sketches often look like etchings and drypoint and most of them are intricately detailed. It would be great to see some of these available in book or postcard format, as I’d love a souvenir. A great exhibition and cunningly linked to the forthcoming Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre.
Barnsley looked very different when Kenneth Graham sketched the quaint alleyways, public houses and landmarks as he went about Barnsley in 1932. His sketches were published in the Barnsley Chronicle at the time and he wrote:
“In therefore recording in that year, for the first time… the readers of the Chronicle found many of the subjects to be unique in architectural beauty and typical of the craftsmen of the district whose workmanship and artistry had been neglected by all writers and illustrators of Yorkshire’s charms.”Kenneth Graham was painting at the age of 7 and became the Chief Designer at Wood Brothers Glass Company at Hoyle Mill from 1926-1938. In 1938 he moved to London, becoming the Creative Manager for Coty’s perfumery, designing many striking perfume bottles. He also owned his own gallery, selling London scenes.
Kenneth Graham was widely known throughout Yorkshire and recorded an important amount of drawings, etchings and paintings giving viewers today a glimpse at a very different Barnsley. The exhibition includes special loans from the family of Kenneth Graham, including a self- portrait and paintings of Silkstone Church, Round Green Farm and an image of a Wood Brothers glass blower.
Kenneth Graham is also one of the artists currently being research as part of the Barnsley Art on Your Doorstep project. The group is currently drafting booklets about a number of Barnsley artists going as far back at the 1700s. You can find out more about Barnsley Art on Your Doorstep here.