A new exhibition pays to a Bradford Artist who provided inspiration to a host of local painters

The Bingley Gallery, in Park Road, is about to feature a rare exhibition by the highly appreciated local painter and teacher Jeremy Taylor, alongside a selection of work by his former students, who together illustrate the creativity that lies hidden in many of us.

Baildon-based Jeremy taught for many years at both Bradford and Shipley colleges, as well as running his own classes. He led workshops and held demonstrations for many art clubs in Keighley, Bingley and Wharfedale, but some years ago had to retire from teaching when his wife, Sara, became seriously ill.

Jeremy recently returned to painting and the show features new work, as well as paintings completed in his famously popular oil and watercolour classes.

His career in art was hardly conventional. "I read philosophy at university, which left me pretty much unqualified for the world of work,” he says. “I worked on a building site, and recall spending my first wage on a painting by the great Keighley artist Joe Pighills, which I still treasure.

“Despite having no formal art training, I was encouraged by early successes to paint full time, winning many awards and being the youngest artist elected to membership of the British Watercolour Society.

‘‘I fell into teaching by a happy accident. For many years I worked as a jobbing painter for card and print companies and on commissions. I was making a living.  After being asked to teach a couple of watercolour courses at Ilkley College I began to realise that, for me, teaching was much more fun and much less stressful than painting for a living’’.

The courses proved very popular, and soon Jeremy was teaching full time ‘‘I would teach all week then at the weekend I could paint what I liked, without caring if anyone liked it or bought it.”

He adds: "I encourage anyone to have a go at painting, it’s a complete escape from the cares of the world. There are lots of art classes available, and some excellent art clubs. Other painters are usually very supportive and art clubs offer the chance to exhibit’’.

Jeremy’s recent work on show includes several of his lockdown pictures, "like many others my view of the world has been limited to the view through the window or looking at a screen, or sometimes looking at piles of old photographs,” he says.” This is reflected in the shattered, abstracted margins of the pictures, like myself perhaps, a little frayed at the edges.’’

One of the recurrent themes that Jeremy’s students stress is that his encouragement of others was never tightly focussed on his own style and he was most happy when students took their own direction, buoyed by the belief in their own ability that he radiated. 

Since attending Jeremys classes, Kate Readman’s enthusiasm for art has led to work in different media: Following a chance encounter with a felter in Cumbria, she has transferred her passion from watercolour to that media, even to the extent of hand dying her wool at home. Her subject matter is mainly landscapes, particularly the wilder countryside outside the city, which is beautifully rendered in soft hues of paint or wool.

A feature of Jeremy’s classes was that those who were already competent painters chose to continue to attend alongside near beginners. Pam Bumby was an art teacher in her own right but found the group beneficial and enjoyable. In the exhibition Pam is showing a selection of works in her current medium, oils. She loves the challenge of painting outside. “I'm inspired by the changing light on the landscape, and by how it affects atmosphere and colour,” she says. “I'm particularly drawn to places where there's evidence of the people who lived there, the industrial and coastal towns and villages of Yorkshire.”

For partners, Rob Thomson and Stella Verity, painting has become a shared passion since retirement. Rob is a former architect, now able to concentrate on painting in both watercolour and oils, he belongs to international and local groups and exhibits widely.

As you might expect, many of his works include buildings in urban and rural environments, and the laws of perspective come as second nature, but he is the first to admit that. “When I look at my development as an artist, I can trace it all back to Jeremy’s skilled tuition,” he says.

Stella, a retired teacher was persuaded by Rob to join him at watercolour painting lessons at Shipley College. “I was hooked after my first visit,” she says. “I realised that, although taking art at O and A level had taught me a lot about techniques and theory, I had never been taught how to paint.

“Jeremy’s classes were wonderful, enlightening and rewarding as well as entertaining. Thursday became our favourite day of the week and still is; a small group of us ex-Jeremy pupils still meet to paint on Thursdays ten years later.” A keen gardener and cook, Stella’s paintings are usually of flowers fruit or vegetables. “I love the vibrant colours and the amazing patterns of the natural world and try to replicate that beauty and variety in my work”. 

Steve Dunne is probably the artist who has kept closest to Jeremy’s ‘Bit o’ mucky watter’, wet-into-wet watercolour technique. Bradford born and raised, at 76 years he’s unlikely to move away. It was after a health scare in 2003 that he took up painting: “I started with watercolours thinking that was the easy way - we live and learn. I was then directed to Jeremy Taylor's evening classes, and learned from the beginning all the pitfalls and traps to avoid. Jeremy's laid-back way of painting and teaching is remarkably effective, and his methods still inspire me today.
I paint purely for the enjoyment and satisfaction of painting, and hope to continue learning and daubing for many years to come.”

Anne Allan, describes her art, and the classes she attended before Jeremy’s as ‘just dabbling’. She then signed up to and continued for 15 years, loving every class, learning much and gaining in confidence with every lesson. 

Her art took a new direction when she took up Chinese brush painting and calligraphy, even attending a course at the International Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China. She is a founder member, secretary and co-chairman of the Yorkshire Group of the Chinese Brush Painters Society. Anne has also moved into teaching; running workshops and demonstrations to art groups throughout the north of England and enjoys passing on her love of Chinese art.  For Anne, lockdown proved to be a fruitful period, allowing her to complete the text and 50-plus illustrations for a recently published book on the techniques involved in the traditional gongbi or meticulous style of Chinese painting.

Jeremy remains a modest man - ‘’Many of my students, were already talented and skilled painters when they joined my classes,” he says. “I often learnt from them. If space allowed, many more would have been included in the show.’’ He also expresses his gratitude to David for the suggestion of sharing a show with former students.

*David Starley, the owner and resident artist at The Bingley Gallery did not go to art school, but attended a number of art classes between Australia and the UK, although with no aim beyond enjoying himself and becoming a proficient amateur. “I’ve known art tutors who were inspirational and others who did more to dampen enthusiasm, but Jeremy had a very special ability to instil belief in one’s own ability, whilst tactfully providing guidance to create decent paintings. Without his input I cannot imagine myself taking the step towards a career in art."

David, is just happy to be able to provide a thank you to the man who provided such inspiration to himself and others. Also to show to other potential artists the talent that may lie dormant in them.

The exhibition runs to May 15.

For more information visit Bingley Gallery website: davidstarleyartist.com/bingley/