Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Alfred East Gallery, Kettering

Alfred East was born in Kettering in 1844 and studied painting in Glasgow and Paris. Though he is little remembered today, he became one of the leading landscape artists of 19th century England.

When he died in London in 1913 and his coffin was brought back to Kettering to lie in state in the art gallery which he had presented to the town along with many of his paintings.

That Alfred East Art Gallery survives and I visited it today. There are rooms: one is devoted to the permanent collectiion - today there were some attractive John Pipers as well as paintings by East. The second room has displays by contemporary artists. At present it is devoted to a display of the work of Graham Underhill.

Kettering, it turns out, has a considerable artistic history beyond East. The gallery itself was designed by another Kettering man, John Alfred Gotch. And his brother Thomas Cooper Gotch was a painter whose work you can also find in the Alfred East Gallery.

And there are other Kettering artists from this era, like Frank Jowett and Walter Bonner Gash.

Whenever I visit the town I am left feeling grateful that I live in Market Harborough, but if you look above the shop fronts it is obvious that Kettering was once a prosperous town with architecture to match. It seems to have had a flourishing school of artists too.

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