Can anyone tell me what happened to the painters who used to exhibit on the Bluecoat railings every Saturday?
I understood that they were shifted off when the place was 'restored' and can imagine that they would then have been considered to 'bring down the tone' of the posh, new-look Bluecoat (which I hate, especially what they did to the garden)- but I wondered if they were offered a new home elsewhere?
I must here admit to having been one of them for a number of years- albeit a photographer rather than a painter. My pitch was on the far left as you look at the building, next to the handbag shop as was. Tony Flanagan, the painter who exhibited there- and made a decent living at it- for many years, generously budged up and gave me a bit of his space. Rob Ball was another kind soul who showed there too, and who got me started when I was skint by sorting me out with a load of frames. That's him in the picture below, taken in 1984, with his smelly old dog, Tramp. They were all great people.
There was little love lost between the artists inside the Bluecoat and those outside but we were at least left in peace and never had to pay for our specks. It was a great apprenticeship for me, new to photography and new to public exhibition as I was. It was often bloody freezing down there- School Lane is a proper wind tunnel- but I had a great time and even made a few bob now and then too...
I went for a mooch around there recently, when I was last in town, and was gratified to see that, despite all the vast changes to the Bluecoat, the metal eye bolt I drove into the wall next to the old bag shop's window sill to tie a rope to to stop my board from getting blown away is still there! I was quite moved to see it..