Post­man Pat il­lus­tra­tor’s show

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - ART -

ON Christ­mas Eve last year, gallery owner Si­mon Hester drove into Leeds to do a morn­ing’s work at the Artco art space off the city’s Mean­wood Road, know­ing it would be quiet and that other busi­nesses in the build­ing had shut for the hol­i­day.

The spell of icy weather had thawed a lit­tle overnight but the air was still bit­terly cold. As he drew up to park out­side the front of the gallery, he was con­fronted by the sight of a tor­rent of water pour­ing from the front door, form­ing a lake out­side the build­ing and quickly freez­ing. He fought his way in­side, to see that the water was gush­ing through the ceil­ing in the cen­tre and cor­ners of the gallery. Luck­ily most of the dam­age was con­fined to the ac­tual struc­ture of the build­ing.

“The slight rise in tem­per­a­ture had caused a burst pipe above the gallery to thaw and the only way was down­wards,” says Si­mon, whose gallery had been open since 1997. “I rang a plum­ber, the in­sur­ers, ev­ery­one I needed to, then set to in try­ing to clean up. I spent all my time over Christ­mas work­ing here try­ing to do what I could but every­thing was pitch black and it was un­be­liev­ably dif­fi­cult. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get hold of dry­ing equip­ment quickly. But even when you do, dry­ing out a build­ing is a very slow busi­ness.“

It’s true – there’s no quick fix when the ceil­ing and floor have been sat­u­rated and left so dam­aged that the only re­course is re­place­ment. It took eight months in to­tal for the gallery to dry out and for the struc­tural work to be done – which, in any case, could not start un­til April.

Over the years that Si­mon and his sis­ter Leah had been in busi­ness to­gether with Artco, the gallery had es­tab­lished a great rep­u­ta­tion and the cal­i­bre of artist show­ing there had risen steadily. Exhibitions pro­grammed for this year had to be post­poned, and for months it wasn’t clear how long the space would be closed. The build­ing work in­cluded re­build­ing of walls, as­phalt floor­ing and a new ceil­ing. While he was about it, Si­mon – who now op­er­ates the gallery alone – was able to freshen up the decor and light­ing and top off the project with a new name.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to say how much busi­ness we’ve lost, but ob­vi­ously it’s sub­stan­tial and you lose mo­men­tum,” says Si­mon. “It’s been a dif­fi­cult time, but the many artists and deal­ers we work with have been very sup­port­ive.” In the mid­dle of the dif­fi­cul­ties, he also lost his mother to can­cer.

“Thank­fully, we’ve been back in the gallery for the last few weeks, and our first show of work by Dora Holzan­dler has done pretty well. We’re now lucky to have a col­lec­tion of works by the Brad­ford-born Royal Aca­demi­cian Richard Eurich, who is a very good fit for the gallery, in that he’s lo­cal, he’s highly re­spected and I re­ally like his work. Eurich, who was strongly in­flu­enced by Turner, ploughed his own fur­row and was at the height of his pop­u­lar­ity in the 1930s and 40s. He dropped off the radar a bit later on, be­cause he didn’t buy into the ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ism that be­came fash­ion­able. I think more peo­ple should know him.”

Eurich (1903-1992) stud­ied at Brad­ford School of Arts and Crafts and The Slade. His first solo ex­hi­bi­tion was in 1929. Land and Sea, paint­ings and draw­ings by Richard Eurich RA, is at Hester Gallery, 1 Mean­wood Close, Leeds LS7 2JL un­til De­cem­ber 5. 0113 262 0056 www.hes­ter­gallery. co.uk ART in the Mill will be open­ing its Christ­mas ex­hi­bi­tion on Novem­ber 13. The ex­hi­bi­tion will show­case the work of Ray Mu­timer who is an artist from Knares­bor­ough and well known for his il­lus­tra­tions of the Post­man Pat books. Ray’s il­lus­tra­tions have been used by many pub­lish­ers and can be seen in a wide range of sto­ries, from Noddy to nurs­ery rhymes. The ex­hi­bi­tion is ti­tled A Lit­tle Imag­i­na­tion and fea­tures a num­ber of paint­ings that are said to demon­strate Ray’s abil­ity to recre­ate af­fec­tion­ate, dream­like sce­nar­ios.

NEW START: Si­mon Hester at the now re­opened Hester Gallery. The cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures work by Richard Eurich RA.

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