For the last 25 years of his life Jack Hellewell painted all day and every day, describing himself as “a fanatical painter”.
The Bradford-born artist was recognised as one of the finest Yorkshire painters of his generation and exhibited at the Royal Academy on several occasions.
But when he died the quantity and quality of work that he left amazed even his own family.
Now an exhibition is showcasing a selection of Mr Hellewell’s acrylic paintings, some of which have never before been seen outside his studio.
Ann Petherick, of Kentmere House Gallery, in Scarcroft Hill, York, showed his work throughout the years that he painted, and has continued to do so since his death in 2000.
From this week until June 30, she presents A Sense of Place, Paintings from the Studio of the late Jack Hellewell 1920-2000, in The Common Room at The King’s Manor, University of York.
“I always looked forward to visiting that studio,” said Miss Petherick. “His attic flat in Ilkley would be neatly stacked with canvasses and portfolios. He would invariably say: ‘I haven’t done much’ and then the portfolios would be opened and the work would start to appear. It was clear that he had done a great deal, and it was astounding in its consistent quality and colour range.”
Born in Bradford and trained at the city’s School of Art, Mr Hellewell exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition on several occasions in the 1990s and his work is in the collections of British Rail, the National Power Company, Rochdale Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery and Provident Financial, Bradford.
“One of the quietest and most modest of men, Jack was delighted when anyone bought his work but hated to be involved in the selling process,” said Miss Petherick.
“Private views were dreaded and to be avoided at all costs by Jack, and even a photograph was resisted – but occasionally achieved. As a result, there were very few people who were privileged to know him but a great many who enjoy his work every day.”
Mr Hellewell’s family have been gradually cataloguing and photographing his work and making it available for sale through Kentmere House Gallery, which is acting as artistic executor.
A selection of work is on show at the gallery and on kentmerehouse.co.uk.
- The King’s Manor gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, and on Saturday, April 21. For more information ring (01904) 656507.