Of Landscapes and Living Things'Peter Ainsworth (73) from Brough took up painting again in his 50s, but had barely touched a paintbrush since his time at the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys where he was inspired by art master Stanley Reed RA, is staging his first solo art exhibition this month. 


Retirement gave Peter the time to pursue his hobby more intensively. He has painted around 24 paintings during this time, mostly pastel landscapes including some scenes of the Yorkshire Wolds and East Riding, and of favourite spots in North Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. 

Peter who lives at Fairway View in Brough, a McCarthy Stone Retirement Living development, said: “It was good to have more time to myself after retirement and to start thinking about painting again.

“Jo Harris, a Sales Consultant at McCarthy Stone who we met with, helped me enormously in finding an art studio locally with good work space and where I could come and go as I pleased.”

Peter’s studio is at Calf House Studios, Cold Harbour Farm, Bishop Burton. It houses an eclectic mix of creative artists and professionals including silversmiths, jewellery makers, painters, a sculptor and a lithographer. Conversion of the buildings was facilitated by a grant from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. 

“Without doubt it was Jo’s unrivalled knowledge of the local area and determination to help reignite this passion of mine that led me to Cold Harbour Farm and Calf House Studios”, says Peter. “It is such an inspiring place to work and the owners of the farm are incredibly supportive of us all.

“My wife Vivien and I love walking and you will often find us exploring National Trust and other properties and their grounds, and in the local countryside. This is an ideal means of keeping up with observation skills and finding new viewpoints to paint along the way.

“I hope this exhibition will inspire other retirees to take up or improve upon their art in retirement. It was certainly a release for me during the lockdown, and can be very calming.”

The exhibition, free to visitors with tickets to the grounds or Hall and entitled ‘Of Landscapes and Living Things’, will be staged at the Carriage House at Burton Constable Hall from Monday 24th August-Monday 21st September 2020. Peter will display 26 new works of art, 21 of which will be on sale with two thirds of the proceeds shared between Macmillan Cancer Support and St Helen’s Church, Welton with Melton, Peter’s local church.

“I was a bit apprehensive at first about exhibiting, but I’ve had a lot of encouragement from friends and family”, says Peter. “I am perhaps most pleased with some of my more recent paintings, created during the coronavirus lockdown. My favourites are a view towards Gardham and another from Cold Harbour Farm towards Beverley Minster. I would say these are some of my best recent work. I put this down to having the time to really concentrate on the work, with no other distractions. While I missed being able to go to my studio for a short time, when the restrictions eased slightly it became a very productive period for me.”

Peter maintains that his art is just a hobby after a long and rewarding career in academia, most recently as a Professor of French at the University of Sheffield.

He explains: “I had a busy career in the lead up to my retirement so never had the time to paint as I do now. I like the idea that my paintings are giving a little back through raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and contributing to St Helen’s Church who were so welcoming to myself and Vivien when we moved to the area. This is my way of saying Thank You.”

He continues: “Moving to Fairway View is one of the best decisions we ever made. Our previous home was a large four bed detached property on a steep slope in south-east Sheffield. It was convenient for work and we had many happy times there, but we knew it wasn’t sustainable as Vivien has ongoing health issues and we wanted to be closer to family in the East Riding.

“I would commute back and forth to Sheffield to visit family in the East Riding, and would often travel through Brough train station en-route back to Sheffield or on to York, Leeds or London. The travelling led to me exploring quite a lot of the East Riding and becoming familiar with Brough and all that the town has to offer.”

Peter and Vivien visited Fairway View and instantly fell in love with its location overlooking the golf course. They were able to hand-pick the apartment of their choice from the plans.

“We’re a close-knit community here”, says Peter. “Everyone has gelled really well and I am thankful we made the move when we did. We had a lot of belongings between us that we had to declutter and get rid of. It was important that we did this while we still had the energy and didn’t need to rely solely on family to help. It was therapeutic actually, and it gave us pleasure to see furniture go to young people starting out. Much of it we donated to St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield.

“The best part about moving is that Vivien and I have been able to find fresh places for walking. Vivien is less mobile than she was, but there are plenty of flat walks and grounds we are able to explore together happily, and this an essential part of us leading an active and independent lifestyle.”

Peter’s exhibition ‘Of Landscapes and Living Things’ runs from Monday 24th August to Monday 21st September. Bookings and admittance to Burton Constable Hall can be made via the website: https://www.burtonconstable.com/.

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