The Shelton Minotaur

November 8, 2013 Leave a comment
Minotaur tea party

Boys’ night out; 1970s – Ashford Street, Shelton

I finally thought I’d caught one of the above bad boys until this evening… it turns out that there are at least six of Shelton’s Minotaurs out there. The character below turns out not to be one of the above. I met him again today after first seeing him many decades ago. As a child, I never recollect being awake and frightened by this Minotaur – albeit I do remember a nightmare whereupon I walked along a forest path only for the same creature to leap out ahead. The forest, with dreamlike certainty, was Trentham(!).

The Shelton Minotaur

The Shelton Minotaur – height 18″

I am aware that the late Jack Simcock owned one of Shelton’s minotaurs, and one was known to have spent time hanging out on the coffee table of Pat Phoenix. I have seen a smaller, less crafted version – presumably an earlier attempt – although my own opinion is that the Taurean party as per the uppermost photo are the finished article. He now sits on my own mantelpiece to bring nightmares to my own children.

The Shelton Minotaur

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Early Shelton turns up on eBay

October 26, 2013 2 comments

I had a fantastic message on Friday night from a Facebook friend who has similar interest in Shelton, Cope and Berry saying that she had spotted an early painting by John Shelton on eBay.

John Shelton - London scene, 1951

John Shelton – London scene, 1951

John Shelton - signature; London scene, 1951

John Shelton – signature; London scene, 1951

It is an early oil on board by John Shelton. Similar in style to a Potteries scene painted in 1950, this piece is most likely set in the capital as by 1951, Shelton was working at the Festival of Britain.

John Shelton - verso; London scene, 1951

John Shelton – verso; London scene, (?pre-)1951

The verso provides further interest – an early circus scene by Shelton. While Shelton’s style radically changed throughout his career, the circus theme recurs in work across many decades. This theme is topical given the current Circus exhibition at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery which features two of Shelton’s paintings.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Clown (not) resting……

July 25, 2013 2 comments

A couple of years back, I was lucky enough to start looking through the studio of John Shelton (1923-1993). In there were paintings, ceramic figures and his notes – including diary entries recounting his time in Fitzrovia in the forties.

Clown Resting (1962) - close-up

 

One of the paintings stacked in his studio was Night Out With Robert – My Father and Me in 1928. Painted in 1988, this was a departure from the various styles adopted by Shelton throughout his life. His diaries suggest that this was purely an attempt to catalogue a vivid recollection of his father “before the memory fades“, regardless of style or genre.

Night Out With Robert - stacked in the preserved studio, summer 2011

Night Out With Robert – stacked in the preserved studio, summer 2011 (bottom left of rip-saw)

 

In the last two years the painting has had some life breathed back into it. It was restored by Julia Dalzell: the original staples were superceded by copper tacks, the original strainer was replaced and the canvas was tensioned into its new stretcher after being cleaned and varnished. Scrubbed up, the painting then featured in The Burslem Boys exhibition in Autumn 2012.

Night out with Robert (1988) - view from the stairs

Night out with Robert (1988) – view from the stairs

The work is now doing the rounds in a Circus exhibition at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.

As an aside, I would have liked the exhibition to have featured more local circus themes, such as The Wakes, Hanley, an event which many of the oldest generation still recollect and which (in spite of the background embellishment) was the inspiration behind Shelton’s Night Out painting and which was of influence to other local artists such as Norman Cope (1925-1943). It would have been good to read more about the artists featured in the exhibition too. However, I digress.

 

Another Shelton painting is also on display – Clown Resting (1962). This was donated to the museum by a Mrs Lovatt in 1988 and has sat in the archives for much of the time since.

Clown Resting (in archive)

Clown Resting (in archive)


 

Much like the work of the Roberts – some of which sits in darkened archives rarely looked at – it’s good that the work is finally seen once more and that there is some rotation of the vast paintings sitting in perpetual darkness.

The exhibition runs from July until December 2013 and also features two pieces by Rowley Scott which form part of the Barnett Stross collection. Another story, but a taster for Barnett Stross can be found on Richard Warren’s blog here.

Circus exhibition, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery (July - Dec. 2013)

Circus exhibition, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery (July – Dec. 2013)

Are we mean football coaches expecting players to turn up?

June 28, 2013 2 comments

Playing for a team is a privilege not a right in my opinion. Our team has now degenerated into a weekly scrape together of seven players from a total squad of eleven. While it may seem harsh to insist on seven-year-olds turning up week in week out, we have a team to run. I believe that parents have a moral obligation to use a place in the team effectively. Kids turning up for half of the time are wasting half a season of football training and their parents are depriving another child from a place in a team.

As ever, I’m keen to have feedback from other coaches on how realistic our expectations (of parents) are for this coming football season…..

The “Expectations” e-mail

Dear All,

I’m sure we all know this after one season, but so we’re all clear on our expectations of playing for a team…..

Attendance:
We have to field a team week in, week out. Everyone has other things going on and occasionally missing things is fine. Ultimately though, if you can’t make training/matches enough then a football school – and not a team – is a better option. We need commitment. My previous U7 team ran like clockwork with just 9 players. We struggle making a team from 11 at times.

Availability:
We’re not chasing availability any more – everyone is busy… including us. We’re even busier still when we have to chase people up. Yes/No on Teamer please.

Subs:
In the words of the Under 9s, it’s not our job to ask you for subs. It’s your job to pay us. First weekend of every month please. Direct Debit sorts this.

There are players on our waiting list who would jump at the chance of playing week in, week out. Are you committed to making the most of a place in the team? Please consider your own commitment to your child playing football for a TEAM before signing for this season.

Thanks.

Live Like A Star – Pat Phoenix and the minotaur

April 19, 2013 1 comment

Some time after his foray into Fitzrovia and upon settling back into his North Staffordshire homeland, John Shelton (1923-1993) developed a penchant for creating ceramic minotaurs. Family lore always had it that one of his bovine brethren found its way into the home of none other than Corrie star Pat Phoenix.

Amongst John’s notes and miscellanea, I found the following page, torn from what I assume was either the TV Times or the Ideal Home Magazine.

Pat Phoenix and the Minotaur

Pat Phoenix and the Minotaur


 

The article, Live Like A Star, describes the furnishing of Pat Phoenix’s luxury flat at the Navigation Inn, Derbyshire. On centre stage is the following beastie:

Minotaur - up close and personal

Minotaur – up close and personal


 

My own opinion is that John worked on his minotaur form for some time before perfecting it. There are some lesser versions out there, although the following menagerie is a collection of Shelton’s stronger Taureans – seen here mixing socially outside his brother’s house in Seaford Street, Stoke-on-Trent (possibly in the grounds of the now obliterated St. Jude’s Church).

Night on the town

Night on the town


 

One minotaur – quite a handsome character – is still in the family. I can only guess at where the above party dispersed to though. Speculating wildly, maybe Phoenix passed her minotaur on to her son-in-law, to be used in later years as a parliamentary paperweight. I have heard it said that the late Jack Simcock acquired one, though not directly from Shelton. The two were acquainted – at one encounter, Simcock telling Shelton that his limp gave him individuality!

 

Roundabout Wood in the snow

March 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Hardwick Wood crossing

Looking east from Roundabout Wood

Little Aston Golf Course

West of Aston Wood Golf Club

West of Little Aston Golf Course

Looking west from Hardwick Wood

Home at last

N.H. Paine: ‘Different Lives’ – New Vic exhibition, 2010

March 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Given the snow outside, I thought I’d finally get round to writing up my scribbled notes from the N.H. Paine Different Lives exhibition which was at the New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme in the summer of 2010. These notes, along with some pics pieced together from various corners of the web hopefully capture the definitive list of work shown at the exhibition:

FIGURATIVE

One Who Could Understand

One Who Could Understand

Personally Her Own

Personally Her Own

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
– . –

In A Moment

In A Moment

Waiting

Waiting

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
– . –

Cafe September

Cafe September

I Intended

I Intended

Night Cafe

Night Cafe

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
– . –

As If They Had Been There Too

As If They Had Been There Too

A Second Thought

A Second Thought

French Tea

French Tea

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
– . –

WORKING

Hometown

Hometown

Middleport Moon

Middleport Moon

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
– . –

Nights Are Colder Up North

Nights Are Colder Up North

Harder

Harder

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
– . –

Open Bible

Open Bible

Angry Young Man

Angry Young Man

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
– . –

Dammit No Standing In This Area

Dammit No Standing In This Area

 
 
 
– . –
There Used To Be A Town Here
Canal On The Edge of Town
Through Fields of Gold
Where The Sky Will Snow
Ghost Town
Winter Fox