During the month of June The Old School is pleased to announce an exhibition of Peter Brook’s work, including originals, artist proofs and signed limited edition prints, many featuring scenes familiar to those who live, work in and visit Upper Swaledale.
Peter Brook Originals on Show
The exhibition will run from Saturday 2nd of June to Sunday the 1st of July in the main gallery. For more details email us at email@example.com or phone on 01748 886155.
We recently discovered this rare artist proof Peter Brook lithograph in an antique shop. June, Canal, was part of the 12 Months of the Year series commissioned by Agnews in 1976 and printed in 1978 in editions of 150. This artist proof is one of only 20 produced. In recognition of the importance of the work a copy of the series is held by the Tate (http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/brook-twelve-months-of-the-year-65263). Now remounted and reframed, June, Canal is in now in our main gallery.
June, Canal is an example of Peter’s earlier style – there’s no Peter with dog! The colours are muted, and you can feel the calm and tranquil mood, but through the arch of the bridge are the mills of a nearby town, no doubt a hive of industry. We don’t know where the painting depicts, but perhaps a good guess is that the canal is the Calder & Hebble Navigation which runs through the mill towns of Brighouse and Elland, close to where Peter lived and worked.
Title: June, Canal
Medium: Artist Proof, Lithograph
Size: H81xW99cm Framed
Peter’s work has a special place in the history of the Old School; he was good friends with Mike and Diane, who then owned the Gallery, and often visited to paint views of Swaledale and to support exhibitions; people who visit us recall with fondness meeting him.
We’re very happy to continue The Old School’s association with his work, and always have a good selection of his work on display.
A couple of weeks or so ago, in our Old School cafe, I was having a discussion with a man about the Peter Brook paintings that adorn the cafe walls; the importance of the title; the understated, dry, Northern humour; the feel of place and time. He brought up the title of one particular painting that he’d purchased some years back. The title was The Woods are Lovely, Dark & Deep, and he told me that the line was used as a trigger phrase in an espionage movie, Telefon.
A week or so later I (again) was talking to a couple, (again) in the Old School cafe, and (again) the topic turned to Peter Brook and the titles of his paintings. The woman was from the U.S. and when the discussion reached The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep, and I was about to employ my newly found knowledge, she volunteered that the title was a line from the Robert Frost poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Then, without warning, and to mine and her companions surprise, she recited parts of three Robert Frost poems, at one stage, during Birches, removing the band that held her pony tail and throwing her hair forward – “Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair, Before them over their heads to dry in the sun” – and at that moment I resolved to buy a book of Robert Frost poems.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
On Tuesday I was (once again) in conversation with a couple (once again) in the Old School cafe. (Once gain) they were taken by Peter’s paintings and (once again) the conversation led to The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep, and so I found the poem for them to read. At that point a man in the gallery joined the conversation, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening was his favourite poem, but he’d not seen Peter Brook’s work before and when we found the print he was immediately taken, and thinking it a quirk of fate not to be passed up, bought the picture.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
That afternoon I was (once more) conversing with a couple in the Old School cafe (once again) discussing Peter’s paintings, which (once again) provided an opportunity for me to show off my newly found expertise, both in Peter’s work and in the poetry of Robert Frost, but I was immediately undone. Unbeknown to me, the couple were Peter’s daughter, Katherine, and her husband.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
As we chatted a lady came over to be served, she was buying a Peter Brook greeting card, and as I took her money at the till I mentioned Katherine. She told me that she and her husband were on their way to visit her Uncle, who taught with Peter whilst he was teaching art, and told me of their recent trip to New England and to Robert Frost’s farm, and their love of Robert Frost poetry. I introduced them to Katherine.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Yesterday a man visited the gallery, as we talked he told me that he’d purchased a Peter Brook when he’d visited some years before. Guess which picture he’d bought?
In our small gallery in remote Upper Swaledale, it seems to me that the world now comes to us, and every conversation leads to a connection and a deeper understanding.