Percy Kelly: Scene and Unseen Exhibition

This special exhibition by arrangement with Chris Wadsworth is a fundraising event for Theatre by the Lake.

Saturday 30 March – Saturday 20 April 2024, 12noon – 7pm. Closed Sundays.


This extraordinary exhibition showcases more than 50 paintings, drawings and original prints direct from acclaimed West Cumbrian artist Percy Kelly’s estate. Some of the works have never been seen before, all are available for sale.

Sales of exhibited works in the Gallery include paintings, drawings and a collection of prints made by Percy Kelly, as well as limited editions of etchings created from Kelly’s original plates. Sales will be open to the public throughout the exhibition, with proceeds donated to the theatre.

Percy Kelly: Scene and Unseen will also see the world premiere public screening of unseen footage of Percy Kelly’s works on 8mm.

In Spring 2023 Chris Wadsworth, founder of Castlegate House Gallery and representative of the Percy Kelly estate, received a mysterious email asking if she would be interested in a film and a letter from an artist called Percy Kelly addressed to a gallery owner in Paris. What followed is an astonishing tale, which is still unfolding today.

The screening will take place in the theatre’s Studio on Saturday 13 April and Thursday 18 April, including an introduction and Q&A with Chris Wadsworth, allowing you to learn more about Percy Kelly and the story behind this latest discovery. Book tickets here.

“Out of West Cumbria, a region largely marooned by the overly romanticised Lake District, Percy Kelly drew from a darker, more humble landscape. He emphasised the bleakness of the lichen green fells and the steely scales of the distant peaks. He celebrated forgotten fishing ports which line the industrial coast south of Solway and the terraces of the mining villages. For him, they were the places of mist and rain and intense aloneness. This complex man is to be found in every one of his landscapes… Each piece was deeply felt.” – Andy Christian, Artist, writer, critic, and curator writing in the prologue to the Kelly biography The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Drawing: The Extraordinary Life of Percy Kelly.

Entry to the exhibition is free. Tickets to the film screening are £17.50 (£12 for Access tickets).
Sales of exhibited works will open in person on Saturday 30 March and online on Tuesday 2 April. Proceeds from sales will be donated to Cumbria Theatre Trust. You can view the paintings online here on the Percy Kelly website. If you’re interested in purchasing a painting or print, please contact Chris Wadsworth directly through the website.

Traveller’s tip: An exhibition showing the works of L S Lowry, Percy Kelly, Geoffrey Bennett and Sheila Fell also takes place at The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven until 14 April. The newly reopened Shipping Bow Gallery at Maryport have a permanent display of Percy Kelly and William Mitchell. Castlegate House Gallery in Cockermouth have works by L S Lowry, Percy Kelly and Sheila Fell. A combination of exhibitions offers art lovers the perfect opportunity to make a Cumbrian tour of Northern artists this Spring.

This exhibition is a fundraising event for Cumbria Theatre Trust trading as Theatre by the Lake (charity number 516673).