Tag Archive: artist

  1. International Women’s Day: Exploring the Life and Work of Patti Mayor

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    2022 will see the 150th anniversary of Patti Mayor’s birth. To commemorate this, we will be working with Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston and Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool to showcase Mayor’s work throughout 2022. Gallery Oldham will show an exhibition of her work in the autumn of next year. In the second of our blogs about Patti Mayor, MA student Alexandra Cosmé shares more of the story of Mayor’s life. Alexandra is currently studying Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Manchester after her undergraduate degree in History. She is currently on placement at Gallery Oldham as a collections researcher where she is exploring her interests in history and art.

    Mill Girl with a Shawl is one of Gallery Oldham’s most intriguing pieces of art, and yet, we know shockingly little about its artist, Patti Mayor, or its sitter. Here, we will attempt to uncover more details about the work and life of one of the North West’s most important, yet under-appreciated artists of the 19th and 20th Century.

    Mill Girl with a Shawl by Patti Mayor, Gallery Oldham

    Who Was Patti Mayor?

    There aren’t many details available about Patti’s birth, however, we do know that her real name was actually Martha Ann Mayor and she was born in Preston in 1872. She attended Slade School of Fine Art at University College London, one of the UK’s most prestigious art schools at the time. Other alumni include other female painters such as Dora Carrington, sculptor Mary Spencer Watson and even pop singer Charli XCX. After her time there, Patti returned to Preston where she perfected her craft whilst living a very cultured and vibrant lifestyle.

    Patti’s Art

    Patti’s real interest was portraiture and her work rarely strayed away from this. Most of her portraits are of women and young girls, however the sitters are rarely named, adding to the mystery around her work. We are left to wonder: Did she know these women? How intimately? What was the purpose of painting them? Still, we can discern an important pattern in her portraits as most of these women appear to be from a working-class background. Many women in Preston had no choice but to work. The 1901 census returns for Lancashire reveal that girls often went straight from schools to the mills, and many stayed in their positions once they were married.

    The Half-Timer by Patti Mayor, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston

    Some young girls split their time between school and work. Patti’s The Half Timer (1906-8) depicts Annie Hill, a twelve-year-old girl who did exactly that. You’ll notice a similarity between this and the piece in Gallery Oldham’s collection: the shawl. Shawls were worn by working women and were an easy way to spot their occupation. Annie Kenney famously wore shawls on occasion, and this became somewhat of a marketing tactic by the WSPU to show the “inclusivity” of their movement.

    Patti’s Politics

    It’s impossible to talk about Patti Mayor’s art without talking about her politics. Preston was a very politically active area from its trade unions, the Independent Labour Party, to the Suffragettes. One famous Suffragette from Preston is Edith Rigby who established the St. Peter’s School for young working girls and was imprisoned alongside the Pankhursts. However, there were other women who fought for the vote in the North West who rarely get as much historiographical attention. Jill Liddington calls these women the “Radical Suffragists”. They differed from the Suffragettes in that they weren’t militant and they sought a broader programme of reform, extending beyond the vote to issues such as working conditions, maternity pay and childcare facilities for working mothers. Though the contribution by these women to the Suffrage movement has been largely overlooked, living within this hub of political activity must have had some impact on Patti’s work and certainly her view of the world. In 1908, Patti took The Half Timer out of its frame and to the 1908 Women’s Sunday march and rally with the slogan “Preston Lasses Mun Hev the Vote”. Clearly, then, Patti saw her work as a political statement about the lives and capabilities of women and young girls, and notably, their contribution to the UK’s economy.

    We may also discern details about Patti’s politics through her close friendship with Joseph Garstang. Garstang was a committed socialist, atheist and was completely opposed to World War 1, becoming imprisoned for at least two years for his absolutist stance. Patti painted Joseph on several occasions, as well as his family members, before his imprisonment. You can read more about Garstang’s life in this fascinating piece by his great niece, Ann Berry.

    Self Portrait by Patti Mayor, Grundy Art Gallery

    Patti’s Legacy

    Patti died in 1962 whilst living in her sister’s home. She had not married or had children, proving her to be an unconventional twentieth century woman until the very end. She bequeathed a lot of her art to northern museums and galleries, one of which was Gallery Oldham. This International Women’s Day 2021, we remember the countless women like Patti Mayor and her named and unnamed sitters who strove to make the world a better place for us today.

    You can see more of Patti Mayor’s work on Art UK.

    Alexandra Cosmé is on twitter.

  2. Oldham Open – Speaking to the Artists

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    The Gallery Oldham Collective catch up with artist Howard Jones to talk about his artwork currently display in the Oldham Open 2019.

    What are the titles of the artwork you entered in the Oldham Open 2019?

    I had 2 paintings accepted for the exhibition. Geoffrey Clover was a painting in oils and was bought by Gallery Oldham. And a pint of cream please was a large oil painting of a huge strawberry resting on a fork.

    Can you tell me a bit more about your pieces?

    Medium for both subjects as mentioned was in oils. The reference for the painting of Geoffrey was from a photo that a friend of mine did, Les Stott.

    Is there a specific concept surrounding your piece or do you intend for the viewer to add their own interpretation?

    I chose the subject Geoffrey because he was a well-known figure in Oldham. The painting And a pint of cream please I did basically just to see if I could scale it up well from an A4 photo, although I do prefer impressionistic paintings where you leave the viewers brain to decipher the image.

    How long did it take to create this artwork?

    Both paintings, although there’s much difference in size, took about the same length of time, approximately 12 hours on each.

    Has another artist or event influenced the ideas behind your artwork?

    I attended David Hockney’s preview night at the Royal Academy in London a couple of years ago because I like his approach to his work. I also like Monet and most impressionists but very much admire Jack Vettriano’s work too!….so a wide variety really.

    Are you a full-time artist?

    I am a retired traditional signwriter and ran my own business ( in Oldham ) for 36 years. Painting is now very much a hobby and takes up most of my time. If I had my time over again I would certainly strive to be a full time artist.

    What made you enter the Oldham Open 2019?

    Just to see if my work was good enough to be accepted.

    How do you seek out opportunities like the Oldham Open?

    I have known about the Oldham Open for a few years and called at the gallery about this time last year when Rebecca informed me that it was staged every two years and she gave me the basic info. about entering.

    What advice would you give to aspiring artists and creatives?

    I would advise any aspiring artist to push themselves into a style that they are happy and confident with. I was lucky enough to be put forward ( at the age of 13 ) for the entrance examination at Oldham Art College, which was then just across the road from the gallery. It was a 4 year course and I gained invaluable knowledge from the various teachers there. If you can get yourself on an art course you will not regret it as there are various avenues in the art field to further yourselves.

    Please could you tell me one interesting fact about yourself? It doesn’t need to be art related.

    It seems funny now but when I was around about 7 or 8 years old I was at Roundthorn Junior School and our class were asked to design a ‘’poster’’ about road safety. My piece entitled This is Your Life was chosen out of the whole class and the finished work was placed on the walls of Oldham Art Gallery all those years ago! The headmaster arranged for the whole class to go to the gallery to see mine and other winning children’s work on display. Gosh, I was quite a proud young boy !