Percy Kelly Exhibition

In 2024 Theatre by the Lake will host an extraordinary exhibition of the works of acclaimed West Cumbrian artist Percy Kelly, including never before seen footage of his 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 the artist himself addressed to a gallery owner in Paris. Chris replied with caution; Percy died 30 years ago leaving nothing about ever being in Paris. The correspondent had not been able to watch the 8mm cinefilm footage, but the letter, signed and dated 1964, proved to be genuine.

What followed is an astonishing tale, which is still unfolding today. Alongside the opportunity to view this never-before seen film, this special exhibition will support Theatre by the Lake with proceeds from sales of paintings, drawings and original prints donated to the theatre.

“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 the forgotten fishing ports which line the industrial coast south of the Solway and the terraces of the mining villages. For him they were places of mist and rain and intense aloneness.

This complex man is to be found in every one of his landscapes… Each place was deeply felt.”