Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Picturing Mr Newcastle; T Dan Smith's Artwork Goes under the Hammer

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Picturing Mr Newcastle; T Dan Smith's Artwork Goes under the Hammer

Article excerpt

APAINTING by former Mr Newcastle T Dan Smith during his time in prison is to be auctioned in the city this week.

Miner's son Smith rose to be leader of Newcastle City Council in the 1960s and held a string of other key roles including chairman of the Northern Economic Council and a member of the Royal Commission on Local Government.

He drove forward wholesale changes in the cityscape of Newcastle, describing it as the Brasilia and the Venice of the North.

But the man they called Mr Newcastle was jailed in 1974 on charges of corruption, serving three years in Leyhill Open Prison in Gloucestershire.

Wallsend-born Smith, originally a painter and decorator by trade, took up art and amateur dramatics during his time inside.

Now one of his prison paintings, showing a river scene with three cabin cruisers, has emerged and will be sold by Newcastle auctioneers Anderson & Garland.

The oil work, initialled and dated 1976, has been put up for sale by a woman living in Northumberland who wishes to remain anonymous but whose husband knew Smith.

She accompanied her husband on a visit to Smith's Newcastle home shortly after his release from jail.

She said: "There were around 20 paintings on the wall of his flat which he had done while in prison... I was admiring them and he asked me to choose one. The river scene took my eye and I chose that, and I have had it all these years.

"I suppose painting was an occupational thing for T Dan Smith when he was in prison.

"When we visited him he was very jovial and very pleasant."

John Anderson, of Anderson & Garland, remembers as a boy standing near Smith when he unveiled a modern art sculpture at Cruddas Park in Newcastle.

He said: "T Dan Smith had a lot of time to reflect in prison and he took up painting and amateur dramatics.

"He was certainly an interesting character and has become part of North East history and folklore. …

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