SAINT MONDAYS and thereby hangs a tale
New work by Bartholomew Beal for the Jonathan Vickers Art Prize
about the artist
Bartholomew Beal has translated stories and memories into atmospheric paintings with an ambiguous narrative. His work is intense and ethereal, articulating the balance between the transient nature of people’s lives and the longevity of their story.
Throughout the year of my residency there have been so many reliable people to call or ask questions of and so much sorting, organising and promotion going on discreetly, whilst I make a mess, that I should like to express my gratitude.
Beal describes the characters he paints as ‘expressive figures within an under-described space’ and concedes that his pictures develop as much from ‘trial, error and accident as they do from painterly proficiency’.
From the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, where every question is answered and workshops sorted: Mark Suggitt, Adrian Farmer, Anthony Attwood, Natascha Wintersinger and Mary Smedley. John Rogers deserves a special mention for his taxi service and trip to the dentist.
This work is the product of a year spent absorbing the stories and traditions connected with the industrial history of the Derwent Valley. Beal’s research uncovered many colourful stories such as the ‘Nailers of Belper’ whose jobs were made redundant by industrialisation. They were heavy drinkers and a notoriously unruly bunch who set aside ‘Saint Mondays’ to recover from the weekends’ excesses.
I would especially like to thank the Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award team who seem to have adopted me: Rachael Grime, Jean Lammie, Jenny Denton, Sian Hoyle, Lucy Palmer and Helen Bishop.
The University of Derby has been brilliant. I met some really interesting and talkative students through Carl Robinson, who has been a supportive mentor, offering his opinions and really helping my jump from final year student to professional practice. Jayne Falconer has made the exhibition of my work at The Dome at the University’s Buxton campus feasible. Adam Leighton has put up the sturdy walls for me in minutes and has helped me out in the workshop where I made all my canvases this year.
Some of the work is for sale. Please inquire at the shop.
Photo : Sam Docker Photography Art Direction : Revolver Revolver 02
The Banks Mill Studios’ team: Laura Williams, Karen Holland and Michele Walker - another set of powerful ladies - for their generosity in letting me borrow empty spaces. The Derbyshire folk music scene, starting with Lucy Ward’s inspirational music, and introductions to Keith Kendrick, Sarah Matthews and Ian Carter have provided me with fascinating insights into the cultural life of the area both past and present. From Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Andrea HadleyJohnson has gone far beyond every call of duty, and doesn’t seem to mind paint stains from sitting on my studio floor. Alison Morton has told me exactly why, when, what and who - for which I must get her another brownie. Jan Gough’s taxidermy trip (“Can’t do you a Guinea pig - owls and raptors are okay”) offered images which clambered into several of these paintings - and Matt Edwards gently unwrapped specimens on demand. Chris Redshaw and his Revolver Revolver team and Peter Selwey’s photography and filming, for their success in making me look deliberate. Mark Hughes and Martin Reid, whose Derby Pyclet Company and friendship have been borderline addictive and Sheena Holland, whose retro shop sustains my other addiction.
tuppence to it
tuppence to it
Sammy Ashton was born at Belper Laund round about Christmas 1823 and became an apprenticed nailer although the greatest ambition of his life was to become a travelling showman. He haunted the Coppice at Fair time, becoming the bane of showmen by offering help to any who even smiled at him. At the age of eighteen he left home to begin his great adventure but a drawback to his enterprise was lack of capital. Waggons and horses, to say nothing of liberty horses, lions, tigers and camels were beyond his means but his heart was the heart of a showman. He had to make do with a brightly painted home-made cart and personal attire which matched his transport. His menagerie consisted of a rat, some white and brown mice, various birds, including hawks and owls, a rabbit, a guinea pig and a monkey, the latter being by far the favourite of both showman and spectators. His rubicund face and sober demeanour became well known in the area though hardly a threat to the big operatives, such as Bostock & Wombwell and Lord George Sanger. Sammy could be seen trundling the cart with its precious cargo to children’s parties and other entertainments but when times were hard he would set up on any waste ground where a crowd might gather and pass the hat “Just to encourage the monkey”. In good times he would be a “regular swell”, collar seven inches high, top hat, and wellington boots. These last were in consequence of a small dog which once mistook his leg for a tree. He was also known for his quick tongue even with the mill owner Mr. Strutt himself. During exceptionally hard times the animals had to go, all except the monkey. The two of them survived by selling newspapers. Sammy was occasionally invited to have a glass of beer but as this was not his favourite tipple he would politely reply “Thank you, Sir, but if you don’t mind, I’ll put tuppence to it and have a glass of rum instead.” The “tuppence” dodge worked every time. Charles Willott, 1880
Tuppence To It 2012 Oil on canvas 40 x 70cm
“he is averse to regular hours, he never works on Monday. He never did, and he never will”. ““what time is it?” asked the stranger, putting his head inside the window opening of a Nailer’s shop. It’s just struck one!” said the jocular Nailer, bringing his mirthful steel-faced hammer down upon the soft head of the inquiring stranger” – Historic local anecdote “the erstwhile prosperous nail trade is expiring, thanks to American imports of Machine made nails. There is however still to be seen the flare of the forge, still to be seen the clink, clink of the hammer at little isolated shops spread over the town”- Belper News 1892 “It has nailshops past my counting, where men and women toil, Making ‘Roundheads’, ‘forties’, ‘clinkers’ for the tillers of the soil” – Derbyshire Poet Thomas Crofts ,1850 Belper nailers were also famed for their violent behaviour. They were particularly fond of boxing, with the “Cross ‘o’ the Hands” a favourite place for fights, tucked away from the magistrates’ eyes. Fuelled by alcohol, arguments often spilled over into brawls and even pitched battles, where nailers fought with hammers as well as their fists. In 1837, for example, resentments against a group of navvies working on the nearby railway boiled over into the “Battle of Pease-Field”, where, according to newspaper reports, the nailers, “armed with their tommy hammers, resorted to blows to assert their rights”. “Their capabilities of suffering the greatest hardships are notorious; ‘Never to be Beaten’ seems to be their watchword”. BBC home website-‘Working hard and playing harder’ – Mary Smedley Saint Mondays 2013 Oil on canvas 40 x 70cm
“Many men have no character at all; they glide along on the surface of society like a chip on the tide. Others have character, but it is so near like that of the great mass of men, that it does not distinguish them from the rest of the world. Joseph Houghton arrests special attention, and becomes, in his day and generation, an object of notoriety. Belper Joe was one of those half-witted, semi-crazy, but harmless characters, whom phrenologists describe deficient in the organs of comparison, and casuality, and constructiveness, but yet cannot be classed as idiotic or insane. Joe, like many other geniuses, was not fond of hard work, but the late mill owner George Benson Strutt, Esq., of Belper would give him work when he asked for it. Joe was once asked to wheel a barrow over a plank, but down fell the barrow, and Joe with it; yet, although unhurt, he set up a great bellowing, when Mason Hallam told him the barrow had no eyes, and could not see its way. He then sent Joe to a butcher for two sheep’s eyes, which he plastered on the front of the barrow, and told Joe he would now manage to wheel it. Old Mr. Jackson, a bookseller resident in Belper, fond of his glass, was returning home on a night rather lively, when he met Joe, and asked him to come and have supper with him. Mr. Jackson went into the cellar for some bread and cheese and told him to eat as much as he liked. Joe, nothing loath, cut off a good slice, and commenced to gratify his gustative organs; but he soon began making such grimaces, that Mr. Jackson asked what was the matter. Joe answered “this is funny cheese as youn gen me, mester.” “Is it, lad?” and on examining it, he found Joe had been eating a lump of soap. The events and conclusion of his life may be a mystery; but of the seeming inutility of his existence it may be found that, when the clouds have passed away under the clear light of infallible certainty, the still and noiseless destiny of Belper Joe has worked out its part in the great problem of humanity as effectually as that of the proudest and most famous. Derbyshire Gatherings by Joseph Robinson, 1866
Derby Evening 2013 Oil on canvas 29cm x 40cm
The Mill’s rules that could jeapordise the week’s payment came into force in 1805. Reading down this list the stories become more and more unruly, and towards the bottom become bizarrely specific. Being off drinking Off at Derby Races without leave Stealing packthread Stealing yarn the property of Messrs. Strutts’ Breaking a drawing frame Breaking a pair of scales Stopping four frames at once Leaving her machine dirty Counting hanks wrong Idleness and looking throu’ windows Calling through some window to some soldiers Making noises in counting house Making T Ride’s nose bleed on the hanks For putting Josh Haynes’ dog in a bucket of hot water Rubbing their faces with blood and going about the town to frighten people Terrifying S Pearson with her ugly face “Discipline within the works was maintained by overseers and by a system of fines. Outside working hours, watchmen employed by the Strutts reported anyone whose behaviour became too wayward. In the early days payment was largely in truck and no more than one sixth was in cash. Deductions were made from wages for rent, food stuffs, coal, milk and vegetables. Some of the produce came from part of the Strutt estate, the garden of Bridge Hill House and from Wyver Farm.” ‘The Strutt Community in Belper’ – Derwent Valley Mills Educational Trust
Forfeit II 2013 Oil on canvas 25 x 30cm
king of rome
king of rome
Charlie Hudson spent the second half of the 19th century in Friargate working as a gas lamp lighter for Derby Corporation. He also earned money as a basket maker and ran a pot shop. He entered his pigeon into a 1,001 mile race from Rome to England and Charlie Hudson’s pigeon was the first pigeon to make it home, and was christened ‘King of Rome’ to international acclaim. In 1946 he presented it to the Derby Museum and Art Gallery where thanks to the ministrations of a taxidermist it was displayed and is on display to this day. “The bird has proved itself capable of great endurances and of suffering much fatigue, and possessing wonderful staying power” The Racing Pigeon magazine August 2nd 1913 The King of Rome and Charlie Hudson were the subject of a song and book by Dave Sudbury, a folk musician born in Derby 1943. It tells how: “On the day of the big race a storm blew in, A thousand birds were swept away and never seen again” This folk song was recorded by June Tabor, and then flew through folk bands and musicians around America and Canada, performed by The Unthanks at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
King Of Rome 2013 Oil on board 35cm diameter
alice in the bacon box
alice in the bacon box
Alice Grace – otherwise known as ‘Old Alice in the Bacon Box’ – was born in 1867 into a family living in Little Eaton. She was a beautiful young girl who was left by her lover, giving birth to a child who died a month old. Thrown back upon her parents she cared for them until their deaths and was subsequently evicted from slum conditions for refusing to pay the rent. She survived by wandering around the village, dependent upon charity from sympathetic villagers for clothing and food. The butcher gave her a large wooden box, used for packing bacon, which she set up as her home, sleeping in it in a sitting position. She lived on scraps given by neighbours, although some gave her a proper meal and one family allowed her in for a bath once a week. Thought by children to be a witch she showed a gentle and kind nature to those that spoke to her. Various attempts were made to move her to the Union Workhouse in nearby Shardlow, attempts which, like all of her generation, she resisted as the ultimate degradation. She always kept a 3d piece in her shoe in order to prove that she was not destitute and could not thus be committed to the workhouse. She lived on in the village, changing the box from time to time, developing a reputation as a fortune teller to eke a living. In 1902 she finally submitted to the workhouse and lived there, apparently happily, working in the laundry, until her death in 1927. She died on Valentine’s Day, aged 74, a woman whose life had been ruined by passion and the conventions of the day but who had resisted the ruin in the way in which she chose to live her life. But this kind-hearted butcher Wouldn’t see me on the street He gave me a bacon box And a scrap of food to eat Lucy Ward – alice in the bacon box (extract)
Thruppence 2013 Oil on canvas 105 x 85cm 08
the jonathan vickers fine art award
The Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award brings a rising artist to Derbyshire to produce a body of new work inspired by the countyâ€™s landscape, heritage and people. Bartholomew Beal, an emerging star of the arts world, is the current holder of this biennial Award. The Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award was established in 1998 by Derbyshire Community Foundation with the help of a legacy from the estate of the late Jonathan Vickers. The Award brings an emerging artist to Derbyshire to produce a body of new work inspired by the countyâ€™s landscape, heritage and people. Bartholomew Beal the winner of the Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award 2012 is the fifth recipient of this award. During his nine month residency Beal has produced a portfolio of new work for this exhibition. He has led a series of workshops with schools and tutored at the University of Derby enabling art students to gain a valuable insight into the experience and practices of a working artist. Each Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award winner is asked to donate a proportion of the work they produce in Derbyshire, during their residency, to the permanent collection, which Derbyshire Community Foundation is building for the county.
www.vickersartaward.co.uk www.derbymuseums.org www.bartholemewbeal.co.uk