Our focus in the frame this week is Consett lad Phil Bartle. Phil’s artwork is fantastic, full of humour and completely unique. If you’re a Consett native who grew up here in the sixties and seventies there is bound to be something that evokes a memory or a laugh in you. His work is definitely a conversation starter in the shop! People often linger at his work and tell us stories about what they remember from the time. It’s amazing what a simple picture can do…
Although, he’s getting ready for an exhibition in mid-August he still found time to sit down and talk to his favourite picture framers. We’re eternally grateful Phil!
What inspires you to paint?
Absolutely loads of things. I’ve put together a random list and they’re all equally important:
People – characters from the past and present and the humour they have.
Memories of growing up in Consett in the sixties and as a teenager in the seventies – fantastic times and Consett was a great place – and still is!
Betting Shops – our family had betting shops in the Consett and Stanley area during the sixties and seventies and horse racing and betting were at the centre of everything we did. They were always smoke-filled rooms and always full, nearly all blokes who were all great characters. There were no TV’s, no computers, just a tannoy and blackboards to mark up the runners and results. As a kid I used to draw on the blackboards when the racing was over.
The travelling fairground that used to come to Consett once a year when Consett Show used to be on. Always remember when I was about 8 wanting to work on the dodgems or the waltzer. I loved all the decorative painted panels on the different rides and music that blasted out.
Being a Catholic – I did a picture about Midnight Mass, I could do endless others.
Herge – whose Tintin adventures had great characters, great humour and took you to exotic far off places around the world. Other comic artists like Dudley D. Watkins who could make ordinary family life funny, as in The Broons, When The Wind Blows and Ethel and Ernest by Ramond Briggs, Viz, The Beano and The Dandy.
Pubs, workingmens clubs, entertainment night at Blackpool hotels, Eric Morecambe, Bilko, Father Ted, live music and loads of bands and musicians.
Football, back in the day before it sold its soul to Sky TV.
Family gatherings and nights out.
And if I had to pick a group of painters, it would have to be when I left school at 16, I was an apprentice painter for Derwentside Council and the group of painters I worked with taught me more about life than any college ever could.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve got a mini exhibition on at Consett Library in mid-August. It’s about memories of going to The Plaza in Consett. There’s about 9 paintings and a few artefacts. The focus is definitely more on humour than on history. I’m starting work on a series of pictures about football in the 70’s, hoping to finish it by summer 2019.
Do you have a favourite piece of art? If so, why do you love it?
There’s so many I like, but if I had to pick one it would be The Beatles album cover for Sgt. Peppers – Pop Art at its finest by Peter Blake.
What’s the importance of framing? How does it affect the overall artwork?
I don’t think you realise how important framing is until you get a picture framed properly for the first time, then you can’t go back to the ‘off the shelf’ cheaper frames. Good framing puts the finishing touch to your artwork and can help set the mood.
I’ve got a funny story about getting my pictures framed. When I was about 18, I sold a painting at Jesmond Art Fair on a Sunday morning for about 30 quid. My brother, looking at this as a commercial money making venture asked me, “How many of them can you knock out in a week?”. So I was churning out these awful pictures just to try and make some quick money. My brother took it on himself to take care of the framing side of things. I came in the house one day and found him sawing 6 inches off the bottom of a painting (they were done on Daler Boards) just so it would fit a frame he’d got hold of. So, if anyone has a picture of mine that looks like 6 inches are missing from the bottom – that’s because they are.
What do you look for in a picture frame?
A bargain and a free pen at Christmas! Only joking, I look for good advice, a wide selection of frames, a professional job at a fair price and a friendly atmosphere in the shop.
Why do you like working with The Frame House?
For all the reasons above and the fact that I can always trust The Frame House to do a great job, and they aren’t afraid to give you their opinion on what would be the best option. Also, the fact that I get on really well with everyone who works there.
Check out Phil’s facebook page Red Dust to see more examples of his work. Or you could pop into our shop and see it there. We’ve got framed originals and mounted prints on offer.