THE work of another six past local artists will again feature on Bradford Big Screen from Monday, July 1.

The common denominator among the six past artists is that they are all to a large extent self-taught.

All the featured artists had a strong instinct and desire to paint, but decided against this route. This may have been for financial constraints or because they were prevented from doing so for other family or other reasons.

For example, Ebenezer Prior, who preferred to be called Jack, was the sales rep for his family’s wool stapling business, but he spent all his lunch breaks sketching the scenes around him. It was only when the family business folded, that he decided to go for painting in a professional way.

Joe Pighills came from a relatively poor working class background, so going full-time to art college was not really a feasible option for him. He became an engineering pattern maker, which gave him a steady income and the means to pursue art in his free time.

Oxenhope Marsh by Joseph PighillsOxenhope Marsh by Joseph Pighills (Image: Colin Neville)

Apart from some evening class study at Keighley Art School, he was largely self-taught as an artist, and it was only when ill-health forced early retirement, he was able to take up art in a committed and full time way.

So although all six featured artists had some part-time tuition or training in art, they developed their talent mostly by trial and error and by teaching themselves. They may have missed out on the systematic training and professional networking that can result from full-time art college attendance, but learning from experience made them more individual in the development of their own styles. They were able to do it their way, on their terms, in their time, and in a way that suited them.

I admire people, like these artists, who find their niche in life and go for it in a way that suits them. In an earlier period of my life, I worked as an adult career guidance adviser and would often meet adults unhappy in jobs that did not suit their talents, personality or values. These were often creative people trapped by the need to earn a living. Sometimes redundancy or other traumas in life, gave them the kick up the rear that they needed to go for what they really wanted to do.

The Big Screen six minute presentation starts on July 1 and will be shown daily at 12.30pm until the end of August. These presentations have been ongoing since 2016 and are the result of a partnership between Bradford UNESCO City of Film, who manage the Big Screen, and the Not Just Hockney project.

Here are my profiles of the featured artists:

* George Bowden (1954-2023) was a painter based in Haworth, where he sold his artwork from a shop on the main street. He became a mainly self-taught professional painter relatively late in life. Although Haworth village and landscape featured significantly in his work, he also painted scenes from earlier travels across Europe, as well as flowers, figures and trains.

* Gerald French (1927-2001) was predominantly a self-taught painter, although he studied part-time for a while at Bradford Art School alongside David Hockney. Gerald was a member of Bradford Art Club and his abstract artwork was exhibited widely exhibited across the region, including at Cartwright Hall, and in London with the Royal Academy.

Gerald French's abstract work was exhibited across the regionGerald French's abstract work was exhibited across the region (Image: Colin Neville)

* Bradford artist, Michael Munton (1976- 2017), was a largely self-taught watercolour artist who gained a large global following for his online painting demonstrations. He also gained national recognition and a Prince’s Trust Young Achiever’s Award from the late Queen for his community work, including teaching art to young offenders. He died aged 41 from a brain tumour.

* Joseph (Joe) Pighills (1901-1984) left school at 14 and became a pattern-maker at a Bradford engineering firm until he took early retirement and could concentrate on art. Joe attended Keighley Art school part-time, but was largely a self-taught painter, particularly of scenes near his home in Marsh above Oxenhope. His work was, and still is, widely admired and collected.

* Ebenezer (Jack) Prior (1914-1988) was a Bradford-born landscape painter. He worked in the family wool stapling business, but was a keen amateur painter who spent all his free time sketching. When the family business closed in 1971, Jack turned to painting professionally and became a successful and widely exhibited artist, noted for Northern landscapes and coastal scenes.

* Bingley-born Herbert Whone (1925-2011) was a trained and talented musician, but was also a self-taught painter, photographer, author, and teacher. During a nine year stay in Glasgow he painted portraits of his musician colleagues and Glasgow city scenes. He also later photographed and painted many Yorkshire scenes. His artwork was widely exhibited and admired.

Haworth Main Street by Herbert Whone Haworth Main Street by Herbert Whone (Image: Colin Neville)

* For more on the artists go to

* Colin Neville curates the Not Just Hockney project, which profiles artists from the Bradford district past and present.