Major display on home turf

There are two ways of looking at the life of Theodore Major, the artist from Appley Bridge who shunned money and fame.

Tuesday, 12th November 2019, 4:12 pm
Theodore Major

First, Major was his own man and refused to connect art and money. Offered fortunes by London art dealers, he threw them out.

But on Sunday afternoons, his home was full of admirers – and the artist was full of smiles, acknowledging he loved showing people his work.

And that work ranged from the local industrial scene, through flowers, and nudes.

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The world-famous arts writer John Berger referred to Theo as “one of the best painters of his time.” And praise doesn’t get finer than that.

Major died in 1999 aged 91 – leaving behind a trove of thousands of paintings left to daughter Mary, his carer.

Since his death, his paintings have been shown in Oldham and Salford. And now a one-day show of works, organised by arts writer martin Heap, is at Wrightington Hotel on Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Some of the paintings are for sale – and a feature of the event will be a talk by globally famous arts writer Michael Howard who is currently penning a “major” book on Theo.

Sometimes described as eccentric, Major was a contemporary of Lowry and they exhibited together several times. All the Lowrys were in private hands.

But Major refused to sell any of his works which he described as “my children.”

A former Wigan Art School teacher, Major and his wife Kathleen lived in a semi on Appley Lane South, and from the early ’50s, he devoted his life to his art. Kathleen brought in the money as a teacher.

The years went by and Major withdrew from the commercial art world, insisting there was no connection between art and money.

He once said: “I hate the art world which is all about money. Rich people come wanting to buy. I just show them the door. But I love showing my works to folks – good folks who realise that I hate the money side of the business.”

The Wrightington exhibition is a rarity and Major would be delighted his works were being shown on home ground. People who really infuriated were those who said: “Why Mr Major, these paintings should be shown in London.” Moment for the artist to explode and shout “Why London…why not Lancashire?”

Martin Heaps said: “I have loved the work of Major for many years. Sadly I never met him but I hear wonderful words and stories about him all the time. I’m delighted to have had the works to put on show. Some but not all will be for sale.”

One recently sold for over £60,000.