Art collection donation to help raise funds for church tower

A COLLECTION of paintings by a Wetherby artist has been donated to the St James's Church Tower Restoration Appeal.

The 12 Stephen Maude landscapes will be sold to raise money for urgent work to the tower, which has been a Wetherby landmark since 1841.

They were collected by Raymond and Thelma Watson, who became enthusiasts of Mr Maude’s work after seeing it at the Wetherby Art Loan Scheme Exhibition in 1983.

Mr Watson commented to Mr Maude that the pictures were exactly how he would want to paint if he were an artist.

When Mrs Watson died recently, shortly after her husband, she left the collection to Wetherby Town Council. Unable to accept bequests of this kind, it had to return them to the artist.

Mr Maude felt the paintings ought to be given to St James’s Church, where the couple had been members and would have supported the Wetherby News Save the Tower campaign. The pictures will now be sold to support the appeal and Mr Maude said he felt sure the couple would have approved of other people enjoying his art work while helping the church.

His work was in acrylics, a new medium when he moved to Wetherby in 1972 and began painting around the district.

Although he is no longer painting, Mr Maude’s work is in Harrogate’s permanent collection at the Mercer Gallery. When he took part in an exhibition in Harrogate in 1986, the Wetherby News featured a double-page spread of his work and more than 200 paintings were sold at the gallery in two years.

He was also involved in reviving the Art Loan Scheme in Wetherby and contributed to the Linton and Barrowby Exhibitions, although much of his work was commissioned for galleries further afield.

The twelve paintings feature scenes from around the Yorkshire area, including The Spinney in Wetherby, York Minster, Wetherby Racecourse and Newby Hall. They are all in good condition and did not need any retouching or revarnishing to be sold again.

The paintings will be on sale at the Committee Room in the St James’s Church Centre tomorrow, Saturday, November 1, from 10am to 4pm. All proceeds will be donated to the Save the Tower appeal and more information is available by visiting www.savethetower.org.uk.