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DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery open exhibitions of works by Theodore Major
Major shunned the commercial art world, refusing to sell his paintings and instead opening his own gallery where members of the public could view his work for free.

DURHAM.- With a reputation for painting gritty and disturbing scenes of the northern landscape and the belief that his work should belong to everyone, Theodore Major was an artist of the people.

Major shunned the commercial art world, refusing to sell his paintings and instead opening his own gallery where members of the public could view his work for free.

A new exhibition at the DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery, in Durham, offers the chance to view a selection of his works, which are on loan from Durham University.

Although he studied at Wigan Art School, Major insisted he was essentially self-taught. He produced an impressive variety of paintings, ranging from harrowing industrial scenes commenting on war, poverty and the human condition to vibrant floral compositions and nudes that he dedicated to his wife Kathleen.

He painted thousands of canvasses, of which he retained more than 3,000. Determined not to sell his work in the belief that all art should belong to the people, Major bought the house next to his own, opening it as a gallery where the public could view his works for free.

Also opening at the DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery until Sunday, 1 June is a collection of new paintings, drawing, etchings and painted engravings by Anthony Clark and The Last Full Measure of Devotion by Kate Wilson.

Anthony Clark attended the Royal College of Art in London, where his tutors were Carel Weight and Ruskin Spear.

The DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery was the venue for one of Clark’s first exhibitions in 1971, but his work has also been shown at the Royal Academy of Art and the Piers Feetham Gallery, London, and the Brian Sinfield Gallery, Oxford.

His pieces are also held in many public collections, both in Britain and abroad, and in the private collections of US President Jimmy Carter, Cardinal Hume and LS Lowry.

This new exhibition represents a body of new work made over the past five years. Much of it resulting from journeys Clark has made to Russia, Italy, Crete and Spain.

These travels have been in the form of a pilgrimage, following in the footsteps of artistic greats such as El Greco and Van Gogh as well as the creators of the great cathedrals of France and Russia and the Greek Orthodox churches.

Kate Wilson’s Last Full Measure of Devotion uses ceramic cups to quantify the loss of life of British servicemen and women in Afghanistan.

From the country potter to mass factory production, ceramic cups have long been used for commemoration, marking life’s rites of passage as well as significant historic events. In the process, the twin-handled love cup has become synonymous with such occasions, its physical form an expression of communal activity and shared experience.

Wilson’s installation, produced as part of Wilson’s PhD, uses this tradition of commemoration not only to acknowledge, but to quantify loss of British life in the Afghan conflict.

Each cup is made from 300 grams of porcelain, representing the weight of the average human heart, and represents an individual life lost since 2001.

Arranged in rows reminiscent of military cemeteries, these humble domestic objects are intended to provide a focus for contemplation.

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