Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Painting Creatures Great and Small All over the World; James Williamson Bell Flew from Swan Hunter and Travelled the World. A New Exhibition Recalls His Artistic Skills, as DAVID WHETSTONE Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Painting Creatures Great and Small All over the World; James Williamson Bell Flew from Swan Hunter and Travelled the World. A New Exhibition Recalls His Artistic Skills, as DAVID WHETSTONE Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: James Williamson

THE brilliance of artist James Williamson Bell, who died eight years ago at the age of 71, should find a new audience when an exhibition opens a week tomorrow.

The retrospective at Gallagher and Turner, on St Mary's Place, Newcastle, will include some of his wonderful wildlife pictures.

James was one of the first members of the Society of Wildlife Artists (founded in 1964) and for a long time its only member in the North of England.

You can find images of some of these pictures online and further proof that he could paint all creatures great and small, from the dormouse or the baby thrush to the tiger.

You will also find an anecdote from artist and framer Ann Collier, remembering the artist's delight when she offered him the body of a kingfisher. The bird didn't die in vain.

Most of the wildlife paintings have now disappeared into private homes or collections.

Consequently the focus of the Gallagher and Turner exhibition will fall mainly on James's paintings of the Tyne and the industrial North East.

It will feature the shipyard cranes of Wallsend, Newcastle bridges and North Shields's characterful pubs and Fish Quay.

It was a world James knew extremely well.

Although he lived latterly in Denton Burn, he was born in Willington Quay, North Tyneside, and was a resident of Knotts Flats in Tynemouth for 20 years.

He started his working life as a draughtsman at Swan Hunter in the 1960s but he was a talented artist from a young age and drew and painted for a hobby when not busy in the yard.

But his art became much more than a hobby and in 1974, when his pictures were already finding buyers, he took the decision to quit Swan Hunter.

In an interview he recalled that it was 'a serious gamble'. Others might have suggested otherwise.

According to Paul Gallagher and Clare Turner, who are mounting the exhibition at their Newcastle gallery, James's 'great strength' was an ability to turn his hand to a wide range of artistic approaches. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.