Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Blott Studio and Artists Collective Out in the Community. Number One: The Donkey Men

David Butterworth's 'Three Donkey Men' in Revoe Library

It all started with a fleeting glimpse of a picture in a book. Corrine, Blott’s director, was flicking through a thick draft of papers, explaining that she and Janine, Blott’s manager, were compiling an archive history of Blott Studios when I first saw it. I loved it. Which is how I came to be in Revoe Library a couple of days later, photographing the original painting. High on the wall, above the shelves of books, 'Three Donkey Men' sat proud. Part of a series entitled, ‘Once Upon a Time in Revoe’, the painting by David Butterworth had been displayed in a community art show at Blott Artist-Studios in November 2008.

The concept of the exhibition, originally inspired by David Butterworth's painting of local character, roofer Brian Brown, was a resounding success. It was lovingly and painstakingly researched and organised by Lynn Butterworth, wife of the artist, and attended by the Mayor of Blackpool, local historians and artists. 

So successful was it that Revoe Librarians, Sue and Marion, were soon waxing lyrical about the painting, which has been much admired since its presentation by the Butterworth’s to the Library following the Blott Exhibition.  Glancing up proudly, Marion told me that she never tired of looking at it.

The story didn’t really end there though.  Interestingly, it was subsequently discovered that Linzi Cason, a photographer who previously undertook a student placement a few years ago at the blott gallery, was related to one of the donkey men. Derek, on the left of the painting, was her grandad’s uncle.  And Sue informed me that Steve, a security officer based at Central Library had also realised he was a descendent of one of the men.

A piece of art with a story behind it is, for me, a genuine bonus.  This painting is aesthetically pleasing; compositionally it works; and I love the way the characters of the three men sit comfortably beside each other on the bench, silently residing over the shelves of books. The fascinating history behind the painting, and the links with local residents make Revoe Library its ideal location for a long time to come.

Blog compiled by Jill Reidy