Wigan Art Show 2010

A unique summer art show featuring eight northern painters took place in Wigan on the 19th and 20th June 2010. The show-piece of the two day event at Wigan Town Hall were paintings by Wigan’s J Lawrence Isherwood and Appley Bridge’s Theodore Major. But other artists – some well known and some striving to make a name for themselves were also on show on the Saturday and Sunday. The show was organised by David Myers on behalf of a group of Northern Art
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When thieves raided Isherwood’s home

It is well-known that throughout his life, Isherwood found it difficult to sell his paintings. And so many were in his home in Wigan, it was impossible to discover if any had been stolen following a break-in. The local evening paper – The Post and Chronicle – in the artist’s home town broke the story after police had made the theft public. At the time Isherwood was with Pat White, the woman he told the
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What the papers said

In Arts News and Review, Mervyn Levy (author of books on L S Lowry and his greatest champion) said of Isherwood’s third London show: “Mr Lawrence Isherwood, a Northerner, is a painter of considerable energy, working often with consummate brilliance, in the established Expressionist style. For him, the swift, unimpeded flow of paint from the fiery mouths of his brushes is a corollary of breathing; painting is the logical extension, a supplement of being, and
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Two Hundred One-man Shows.

  If people would not take trouble to look at his paintings, then Isherwood would take his art to the people. In his lifetime, he held around 200 one-man shows all over the country, and his favourite “exhibition-sale” cities were London, Oxford and Cambridge. Over many weeks he would create hundreds of works of art and some were only hardly dry before they were loaded into the little red van. With “Mother Lily” by his
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Turnpike Gallery Exhibition

  Wine glasses clinked and coffee flowed when the exhibition of 60 superb Isherwood paintings opened a the purpose-built Turnpike Gallery in Leigh on Saturday 7th November 2009. And in addition to many admirers, the show was also graced with the attendance of Molly Isherwood, the artist’s sister-in-law who has done so much to promote the paintings since Jim Isherwood’s death in 1989. The paintings were collected by Wigan florist Billy Higham, who died aged
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To restore or not?

I suppose you can look at the restoration of a painting in two different ways. The first being, don’t, it should be left just as it is. Let the painting speak for itself. The second being, bring the painting back to its former glory. I think I come down on the side of leave it, but who am I to say which is right. I have seen sympathetically restored paintings, that have only needed a
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The painter painted

  A superb naive painting of Jim Isherwood has been completed by former Wigan antiques dealer Jimmy Collins. Jimmy is more than familiar with Isherwood’s work – the artist used to call at his premises on Wigan Lane to show his latest works of art. In fact, years ago, when dealing with house clearances, Jimmy sometimes found Isherwood paintings and these were sent to America with items of furniture. “Sometimes I wished I’d kept the
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The Lost Film

In the early 1970s, Jim Isherwood was delighted and couldn’t wait to tell anyone who would listen that the TV people would soon be arriving in Wigan to make a film about his life and his art. It was true. The BBC producer Douglas Boys, who liked the artist’s work, had come up with the half hour film with the title “I am Isherwood.” The film crew and Mr Boyd arrived to be amazed at
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The Lancashire Mine

In the 1960s and early 70s, limited edition prints signed by L S Lowry were selling like hot cakes. That’s why having held several exhibitions for Isherwood in the 70s, his agent  decided an Isherwood limited edition of one of his “best” paintings would be a winner. Isherwood agreed with the choice “The Lancashire Mine” based on the Mossley Common Pit on the outskirts of Manchester. He had captured its atmosphere in a largish painting
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The Fire

 J Lawrence Isherwood suffered many blows during his lifetime, but undoubtedly the day fire raged through part of the downstairs rooms of the house was, other than the death of Mother Lily, the worst. The semi-detached house on Wigan Lane had been the Isherwood family home for many years. It was bereft of central heating and a coal fire and oil heaters were the only source of heating. Following the death of Mother Lily in
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The Dealer’s Story

 Colin de Rouffignac, Antique Dealer He can laugh about it now. But two decades ago, antiques dealer Colin de Rouffignac had the opportunity to buy the complete collection of paintings by J Lawrence Isherwood. And who was offering this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? The artist himself. It was the spring of 1989 and Isherwood was a shadow of his former self. As was his practice, he called on Colin’s shop on Wigan Lane – as he had
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The book that never was

  Isherwood always told people he was writing a book about his life and his art. He made notes but a final book never graced any bookshelf. Amongst his papers – which were finally sorted years after his death – Isherwood’s book notes emerged; and like the man himself they were scrappy and a little confused. Here, reproduced word for word, are his notes, which he began following the death of his devoted Mother Lily.
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Reprinted Book

The launch of the re-published profusely illustrated book on J Lawrence Isherwood was accompanied by a show of excellent oil paintings. The first 250 copies of the book in hardback found ready buyers, and author Steve Eckersley (right) decided on a re-print in soft back (also 250 copies). The launch was fixed for the evening of Friday 22nd March 2013, but very heavy snow resulted in a low-key event. But on Saturday, collectors and Isherwood enthusiasts turned
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Oil On Board

  Isherwood painted most of his works of art on board. As collectors know, the quality hardboard used by the artist has stood the test of time. Even works on board from the 1950s are still perfect. But now, artbyisherwood has found documentation revealing just who supplied the hardboard. Susan Corner tells that Jim Isherwood bought his boards from her father, Ernest Brown, pictured right, who ran E and F Brown, a hardware shop at
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Museum Of Wigan Life

  Wigan has a new £2m Museum of Wigan Life – and a small  part has been devoted to Isherwood. The Wigan Culture and Leisure Trust has created the grand new facility in the History Shop where George Orwell studied in 1936 while researching his book The Road to Wigan Pier. As our photograph shows, Molly Isherwood, the artist’s sister-in-law was one of the first people to visit the new facility. A photograph of the
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Mother Lily

Lily Isherwood doted on her sons Jim and Gordon. But she was devastated when, as the war came to and end, the sons married two sisters. She was so distraught at the thought that her boys leaving home, she refused point blank to attend the wedding. She stayed inside the walls of 151 Wigan Lane and cried her heart out. But whilst Gordon’s marriage to Molly Bankes was a success from the start, Isherwood’s was
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Montgomery Print On TV

  A signed print of Field Marshal Montgomery of Alamein and painted by J Lawrence Isherwood  was featured on “Dickinson’s Real Deal” TV show from Lancaster, screened on 14th May 2010. The large print – one of a limited edition of just 75 – was bought almost 30 years ago for £300. Amazingly, when antiques dealer Mike Melody offered the seller  exactly the same amount he’d originally paid, the gentleman took it. Mr Melody – known
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Molly Isherwood – RIP

It is with great regret that we announce that Mrs Molly Isherwood, the inspiration behind this website, died peacefully this morning (22nd February 2014). Molly was the sister-in-law of James Lawrence Isherwood and since his death in 1989, she worked tirelessly to ensure  that his work came to the attention of a wider public. She kept her promise not to sell any paintings until three years after his death. She then organised several  successful exhibitions
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Molly Isherwood

No-one knows more about the late James Lawrence Isherwood than Molly Isherwood, his sister-in-law. She knew him as a close family member for half a century and since his death in 1989 she’s made it her ambition to promote his work and ensure that he wasn’t a forgotten genius. Isherwood was a self-obsessed and selfish man. Molly often took the brunt of his harsh words and actions. But she also saw another side of Jim
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Memories of Keith and Molly Routledge

Our Memories of Jim Isherwood I first met Jim, and his mother Lily, in 1966 during one of his shows at Trinity College, Cambridge. My first impression was of a man whose softly spoken and self-effacing character was a refreshing change to the increasingly brash and fast-pace world of the sixties that we were all becoming increasingly caught up in. My wife joined me at Cambridge in 1967 and we both got to know them
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Mary Whitehouse With Five Breasts

  One of Isherwood’s most controversial paintings and one which gained national publicity was “Mary Whitehouse with Five Breasts.” But why did Isherwood decide to paint the sainted Mrs Whitehouse, who launched her own campaign to “get filth off the television.” The reason is simple. James Lawrence Isherwood hated anything which smaked of censorship. He was a liberal minded man and thought that adults should be able to do as they liked – within legal
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Launch Of The Isherwood Book

It took two and a half years to produce. Now the book on the life of J Lawrence Isherwood has been launched. Steve Eckersley has never produced a book before. Now he is to be congratulated on his first work – which is the warts-and-all life story of Isherwood. Steve is an avid collector of the artist’s work, and it was after selling his business, and with time on his hands, he decided to tell the
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Isherwood’s obituary in the Daily Telegraph

Lawrence Isherwood, the artist who has died aged 72, was driven by his muse to abandon a career as a cobbler. To begin with, he painted the woman of his native Wigan but he later found a more lucrative market with imaginary nude studies of such public figures as Barbara Castle, Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein and Mary Whitehouse. “I would rather paint the women of Wigan than any film star,” he said early on
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Isherwood’s Southport Days

  The famous Scarisbrick Hotel on Southport’s plush Lord Street played a vital role in the life of James Lawrence Isherwood. Wigan was certainly his first love, but Southport came a close second. His association with the Scarisbrick Hotel began when he met the hotel’s owner, Frank Carey. Along with his wife, Frank liked Isherwood’s paintings and the artist liked the couple and the style maintained in their hotel. Now living on the Isle of
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Isherwood’s on Dickinson’s Real Deal

  “That’s a bobby dazzler” said tanned David Dickinson of an Isherwood painting when his show “Dickinson’s Real Deal” came to Wigan. The afternoon TV show, watched by millions, invited Isherwood expert Geoffrey Shryhane to appear on the programme to talk about his memories of Jim Isherwood. And David concluded that the three paintings show  were the artist’s best work and singled out one for particular praise. The painting was “Greenhough Street – the Roughest Street
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Isherwood’s Hospital Art School

  Jim Isherwood was first admitted to Billinge Hospital on Friday 2nd August 1974, to “dry out” and before he left his home on Wigan Lane to start treatment, he downed half a tumbler of whisky and several tablets. “I’m ready” he said. So began a seven months’ stay in Billinge, where, without the booze, he began to see life in real terms once again. Before being admitted, he sat in a side room and a
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Isherwood’s Final Journey

  It was a Friday. A sunny Friday when Isherwood – flamboyant, eccentric, wild and sad – went on his final journey. Everyone in Wigan knew the Isherwood family and James Lawrence Isherwood. Jim was the artist who, during his lifetime, captured the headlines. On that summer Friday, he would be awarded one more – in a report in the Wigan Observer with the headline: “Colourful man in a grey world.” Reports that Isherwood had
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Isherwood – Lowry

Isherwood’s greatest hero was his fellow painter L S Lowry. He made it his business to find out where Lowry was appearing and then appeared in the audience. Jim Isherwood was as pleased as punch when he discovered that one of his oil paintings – Minnie Small with Black Cat – had been bought by the Lancashire Master, and it appeared on the wall in a wide angle photo of Lowry’s “workroom” in Mottram-in-Longdendale. When
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Isherwood Sells For £4000

  A quality painting of Brighton Pavilion by Isherwood has been sold in auction for £4,000. The work of art went through Hall’s Auction Rooms in Shropshire on 24th March 2010 – and was considered to be in the top range of Isherwood’s work. As collectors appreciate, Isherwood’s work varies in quality – and his best works are hypnotic and now bring high sums. The artist Francis Bacon – whose paintings sell for millions – said in
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Isherwood Diary

Isherwood never kept a day to day diary and chose to make copious, often fragmented, notes in Silverline students’ notebooks. Many of the diaries were either destroyed by Isherwood or have been lost, but recently the notes made between 1973 and 1979 were discovered, marked “private only.” The entries track his painting life and record small details of his life at 151 Wigan Lane. Around this time, he had split up with his partner Pat
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Isherwood at Christmas

Following the death of his mother, Jim Isherwood spent some Christmas days alone. One diary entry reads: “Got up at 3. Fed the birds. Painted 11 pictures.” At times like this, he wallowed in his own sad company. But not all festive days were lonely as Molly Isherwood, his sister-in-law testifies. She remembers: “When his mother was alive, we’d try to arrange Christmas Day so that all the family would be together. Jim and Mother
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Isherwood – The Auction Record

Isherwood works had been increasing in value since his death. But no-one could have predicted a happening in a Chester auction house in the summer of 2007. On 13th of June, a number of paintings by the artist were auctioned and interest was high but few could have known that one of the Isherwood’s on display would set a new auction record. Lot 845 at Bonham’s was a painting entitled “Dartmoor.” The bidding began quite
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Independent on Sunday magazine 2nd July 2000

  As the decade ended, Molly Isherwood discovered among a long-forgotten box of papers a major article on her artist brother-in-law carried in the Independent on Sunday magazine. It was written by Simon Spence. We are grateful to have received permission to reproduce this article by Simon Spence and the Independent on Sunday. To his neighbours, James Isherwood was a sad, old eccentric. But L S Lowry once called him “the most likely to follow
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Gracie Fields – I don’t think so

Isherwood was proud of his great painting signed in a limited edition of Gracie Fields. And he told the story to anyone who would listen that he once met her at the stage door of Wigan’s Hippodrome Theatre. It must have been in the late 40s or early 50s as the place burned down in the middle of the decade. He explained how he has a fascination for painting stars of stage, screen and television,
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Gimmicks.

Throughout his life Isherwood courted publicity. Nothing pleased him more than seeing his photograph staring out of some newspaper or other. In dawned on him in the early days of his career that the papers were not interested in him – “local artists” were two a penny. If they wanted to have news of their shows in the press, then they could stump up cash and advertise. Isherwood didn’t see it like that and realised
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Geoff’s Story

 Wigan journalist Geoffrey Shryhane was Isherwood’s agent for a few months in 1973 and 1974. Here he tells of the trials and tribulations of a friendship with “Ishy.” I first met Isherwood in the early 60s, soon after I began as a young reporter on the Observer. With my colleague Allan Rimmer, we bumped into the unkempt but ever-smiling artist at the bottom of Rowbottom Square, opposite Wigan Post Office. He told us that the
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Florence dies

Art By Isherwood regrets to record the death of the artist’s former wife, Florence. She passed away at 10-15 on Monday October 7 at the Great Western Hospital, in Swindon, after a short illness. She was in her 90th year. Florence Bankes married J Lawrence Isherwood at Wigan Parish Church in a “society” wedding just before the end of the second world war. On the same day, her sister Molly married the artist’s brother Gordon.
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Exhibition April/May 2012

April 28 to May 12, 2012 An exhibition and sale of almost 100 paintings by Isherwood was held at the premises of antiques dealer, Colin de Rouffignac, in Standish near Wigan. Colin, who knew Isherwood personally, gathered the Isherwood paintings from various different sources. The dealer has held successful shows of the artist in the past. He said: “When I had my shop on Wigan Lane not far from the artist’s home, he was a regular
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Exhibition and Sale February 2016

Another exhibition and sale of Isherwood paintings took place from 6th February 2016 to 14th February 2016. I went along on the opening day to find a fantastic array of works, some early and others late, but all in, some of his finest work. I was very pleased to see that a number had already been sold. This is the first time Heppelstone Fine Art has held an Isherwood event. They have sold some of
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Exhibition and Sale December 2015

A very successful exhibition and sale of works by J Lawrence Isherwood was held 3rd – 24th December 2015. Framed-Up, the Wigan gallery and framers exhibited the paintings from the estate of well known florist William Higham. All the paintings had previously been exhibited at the Turnpike Gallery in 2009. Contact details were… Simon Taylor Framed-up Gallery 834 Ormskirk Road Pemberton. Tel: 01942 222828               www.framed-up.co.uk  

David Simm’s Isherwood Memories

A Blast From My Distant Past   The year was 1960, I had just left school with my “O”Levels and landed a job at the local freelance news firm, McConnell News Service, in Addison Chambers, Walgate, Wigan. At sixteen years old, I was the junior photographer. In my first week I arrived at work a little early one morning to find the partners and reporters sitting round discussing the calls from the day before. I
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Clowns

  Isherwood loved painting clowns and once said: “I think I’m a bit of a clown myself, creating these pictures nobody seems to want.” It’s true. Throughout his painting life, Jim Isherwood found difficulty in selling his works of art. He had a handful of people willing to buy, but they did it out of kindness and compassion. Isherwood’s ability was to produce many different types of clowns. Say Eyed Clowns Jewish Clowns The Artist
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Charity Auction

An iconic Lawrence Isherwood painting of The Houses of Parliament. Framed, Oil on board, 30x40cms done in his mid 60’s atmospheric period will be auctioned by the Willow Tea Rooms on Ebay  over the next fortnight. The painting is illustrated in the Isherwood book by Stephen Eckersley on page 167 of his definitive history of the painter. The painting has kindly been donated by the author from his own personal collection and all proceeds from
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Brilliant Restoration

  Elsewhere on this artbyisherwood website is the story of how the artist accidentally started a fire at his home in 1983. Hundreds of works of art were damaged and many totally destroyed. Two years after his death, the new owner of 151 Wigan Lane found paintings in the long grass at the end of Isherwood’s neglected garden. Last year, he sold some at Capes Dunn Auctioneers in Manchester. Now one of the paintings –
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Audio and Video

 Interestingly Isherwood wasn’t too shy of the film cameras as I’m sure you’ve already read in the feature Isherwood. The Lost Film  sadly this archive film footage was lost years ago. However… Art By Isherwood is proud to have been given access to some very rare film and audio material that captures Isherwood with his family and indeed his mother. Below you can take a look at these rare pieces that we have digitally remastered for your
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Altered Painting

  Once again the fire-damaged paintings are making an appearance but this time with a new and very disturbing twist. The picture shown here has been deliberately and materially altered from the original. The fire-damaged picture at auction had severe damage to the right hand side and cutting away this damage would have removed the original Isherwood signature. This altered picture was offerd in exchange for a genuine painting, owned by a local collector. The collector was
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A Double Wedding

  It was the society event of the season when two sisters married two brothers. The brothers were James Lawrence Isherwood and Gordon Leyland Isherwood. The family was well-known in shoe business. The girls were Mary Banks and Florence Banks, whose family was, and still is, in the funeral undertaking business. The Isherwood and Banks families were known to many in their hometown of Wigan. The romance had been a whirlwind affair. The worst of
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1972 Letter

The following transcript is of a letter Isherwood sent to his friends Molly and Keith Routledge, below this is a copy of the actual letter in Isherwood’s hand. It gives an insight into just how Isherwood was feeling at that time.                                                                                                                                                                                     151 W L (Wigan Lane)                                                                                                                                                                                      28.12.72 Dear Molly and Keith Thanks much for card and letter. Enclosed sketch. Just returned from 4 weeks in my bedroom at Ox (Oxford) Good show planned there
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