“I didn’t know that!”

  • The artist said he would rather die than give up painting.
  • Isherwood was once seen burning his paintings in his back garden.
  • Without a telephone for years, Jim used the public phone outside Wigan Infirmary across from his home.
  • The artist was once too drunk to attend the opening of one of his exhibitions at Salford Art Gallery.
  • Finding a rat in his home, he fed it for many days before releasing it.
  • Magistrates in Southport refused to accept a painting in lieu of a motoring fine. The Clerk of the Court paid the fine and took possession of the picture.
  • The biggest painting Jim completed was a racing scene for Haydock Park.
  • The artist complained that people waiting for the bus outside his home damaged his gate.
  • He alleges in his notes that after a problem at Wigan Infirmary, police took him in hand and broke his glasses.
  • Only 18 people attended his funeral at Wigan Parish Church in the summer of 1989.
  • Isherwood’s motto was “Nature I love, and next to nature, Art.”
  • In the 1950s, Jim undertook portrait commissions in oil for £25.
  • His wire and plaster models were prices at £10 guineas. None appear to have survived.
  • In 1958, he sold prints of his Wigan Pier painting for 6s 11p (35p).
  • The celebrated critic Mervyn Levy, who penned books on Lowry, opened Isherwood’s 17th exhibition at The Coffee House in London on May 13, 1957.
  • In his early years, Isherwood offered hire purchase to people wishing to buy.
  • His “No Parking” signs written at the side of his Wigan Lane home can still be seen today.
  • Isherwood held his first ever roadside art exhibition just outside Manchester in 1953.
  • After a road accident in the 60s, Isherwood called an ambulance to treat his mother, but before it arrived took photos of her bloody injuries. The painting has never been seen in public.
  • In the early 60s, Isherwood appeared on ITV painting with his feet.
  • The artist appeared as an extra in the TV shows Knight Errant and Skyport.
  • An oil painting of John Lennon on the cross was sold during an exhibition at Oxford.
  • The Financial Times said of Isherwood in 1965: “He is almost the last artist of enduring note who refuses to be managed into financial security. It is painting which interests him, not money.”
  • Lowry said: “I only buy pictures I like and I bought an Isherwood years ago.”
  • A painting of Dusty Springfield in the nude was sold to a Hampshire pig farmer for 75 guineas.
  • Isherwood established a permanent exhibition of his works at the Galeria de Arte 27 in Torremolinos and exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, Malta.
  • In total, Isherwood held around 200 one-man shows throughout the country. Mother Lily was at every one.
  • The top auction price for an Isherwood is £7,300 paid at Phillips in Chester for a Devon bridge scene.
  • Dave Whelan, ex-Chairman of JJB Sports had two Isherwood paintings stolen from his office.
  • When Isherwood signed his limited edition print ‘The Lancashire Mine’ he only drank Irn Bru.
  • Sisters Florence and Mary Banks married brothers Gordon Leyland and James Lawrence in a double wedding at Wigan Parish Church on June 28, 1944.
  • After leaving school, Isherwood went out with a jeweller’s daughter named Kay Winstanley.
  • BBC producer Douglas Boyd described Isherwood as: “A man living in the wrong age. Living in the Paris 1900 style but in Wigan in the 1970s.”
  • Largely self taught, Isherwood studied art on a part time basis at Wigan’s Mining and Technical College from 1933 until 1940.
  • In one interview, Isherwood said: “I would rather paint the women of Wigan than any film star…particularly the old women in their shawls. Old faces have more character and colour.”
  • Busts of Isherwood and his partner Pat White are on show at the Scarisbrick Hotel in Southport.
  • Two years after his death, fire damaged paintings were found in the overgrown back garden of Isherwood’s house.
  • When Molly Isherwood mounted the first exhibition of her brother-in-laws work several years after his death, so many people turned up that the police asked for the doors to be opened early.
  • Isherwood planned to write a book entitled “Me, Myself, Alone.” It never materialised.
  • The cross on the reverse of most Isherwood paintings stands for “Help Me God.”
  • The portrait bought by Lowry for £5 was titled: “Minnie Small with Cat.”
  • The Isherwood Suite at the Scarisbrick Hotel in Southport was opened in 1979.
  • Isherwood’s mother Lily – ever referred to as Mother Lily – died in hospital on July 25, 1971. She was 79.
  • In February 1979, the Liverpool Daily Post described Isherwood as “Lowry’s true heir and Lancashire’s leading painter.”
  • Isherwood painted his first picture at the age of nine.
  • He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1955 – the year his father died.
  • In his lifetime, Isherwood held 22 open-air shows.
  • Experts say Isherwood’s work fills the gap between Impressionist and Expressionist painting.
  • Isherwood’s first show was at the Bricklayer’s Arms in Wigan., in 1954.
  • He took paintings from one exhibition to the next on a hand cart.
  • Isherwood’s life was claimed by cancer and he died in Billinge Hospital on June 9, 1989.
  • “Mary Whitehouse with Five Breasts” was Isherwood’s most controversial painting. He loathed censorship.
  • Henry Donn, the Whitefield art dealer, produced three signed Isherwood limited edition prints – Gracie Fields, Francis Chichester and Field-Marshall Montgomery. All were countersigned by the subjects and ran to editions of 75.
  • In 1958, Isherwood painted a portrait of Tommy Steele with two heads.
  • In 1967, Isherwood was featured in a BBC radio feature – “It Takes All Sorts.”
  • In 1959, the artist painted a portrait of the TV announcer Bill Grundy in just over 12 minutes as the programme went out live.