A life’s work

Farm drawing

These past few months the cataloguing of Dave’s work has continued in a newly organised fashion. Ella Cole now works for the Trust and each week she goes to the studio in Haslingden to record Dave Pearson’s work. Previous to Ella working the cataloguing was being undertaken by one of the Trust members, Bob Frith, whenever he had time. In the period of three years since setting up the catalogue, Bob had catalogued almost 1500 pieces of work, but in the six months since Ella started work we have now catalogued a total of well over 3000 pieces.

It has always been a question as to how many pieces of work Dave left. A rough estimate was made shortly after Dave died, for the Estate. There were so many pieces, in a haphazard and chaotic condition, that it was impossible to do an accurate count. Bob Frith’s estimate at the time was ‘upward of 14,000’. Ella Coles recent progress, looking at the drawers of work – mainly drawings and gouaches – kept in document or plan-chests has revealed something like 9,000 pieces kept in these alone. So the initial estimate looks as if it were correct.

People often ask what this amount of work actually represents. Of course it covers everything from sketches to very large canvases, but it’s still an exceptionally large amount of work. In ‘Artists Estate’s’ by Magda Salvesen and Diane Cousineau, most of the artists’ in question appear to have an estate of  between 900 and 1500 pieces of work in their Catalogue Raisonne. On the other hand Picasso is rumoured to have left 30,000 works – although many of these were editions and, of course, Picasso had the benefit of a studio of print-makers and others helping him, especially later in life. He also didn’t hold down a full-time teaching job.

Put another way, if an artist over a period of half a century created one piece of work every day of each week and month, including weekends, that would mean a total of about 17,500 pieces of work. It looks as if Dave Pearson may have achieved something rather like this over his lifetime.