New exhibition in Masham celebrates 35-year career

NARG 1303192AM1 Artist at Masham Gallery. Artist John Degnan with Masham Gallery's Josie Beszant. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1303192AM1)
NARG 1303192AM1 Artist at Masham Gallery. Artist John Degnan with Masham Gallery's Josie Beszant. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1303192AM1)

A special exhibition chronicling an artist’s career spanning more than three decades will open at Masham Gallery this weekend.

The gallery’s new 35 exhibition, showcasing the work of professional artist John Degnan, will open on Saturday, March 23 – the first ever solo show of John’s paintings and prints.

“At school, art was the only thing I was good at,” said John, 65.

“I always used to be known as just a drafts person using pen and ink but there was demand for more colour so I took inspiration from artists such as Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac.”

A book written by fellow artist Ian Scott-Massie, known as “Scott”, will accompany the show – the first exhibition of 2013 at Masham Gallery.

Ian’s book follows John’s life and work and boasts more artworks than the exhibition, including paintings which date as far back as 1956, when John was only nine-years-old.

Raised in Darlington, John worked in Durham before beginning an artistic career and settling in Bowes.

John and Ian were born five years apart at opposite ends of the country, but both ended up working in Durham in the 1970s.

“It was a time of important social change and was very influential on their work,” Ian’s wife and Masham Gallery owner Josie Beszant, 42, told the Gazette.

“The longer I watched John and Ian chatting the more I realised that Ian has a unique perspective on John’s history and work, and how much they share in common,” she said.

Ian’s retrospective on John’s life and work is the sixth book produced by Masham Gallery on artists in the north of England.

But it is the only book commissioned by the gallery written about an artist, by another artist.

“It creates a completely different perspective,” said Josie, who has runthe gallery on Market Place for 20 years.

“It makes the book much warmer and more personal, and they greatly inspire each other.”

l‘35’ runs until April 28. Ian’s book can be purchased from the gallery for £9.50.