Bradley, Helen (1900-1979)

Helen Bradley was born in 1900 in a small village called Lees near Oldham in Lancashire. Whilst young she had a little training in jewellery and embroidery at the local School of Art but did not start to paint until the age of 65. She began to paint to tell her small granddaughter what life was like when she herself was a small girl. Many unusual interests are woven into her work, a love of early mogul pictures, the Dutch masters and works of Chinese painting, plus one of her special ingredients the recollection of atmospheres and event. Her paintings are full of busy people and are painted in a flat decorative style, without roundness and without shadows. Miss Carter (who wore pink) features in most of Helen Bradley’s paintings. Other characters you will find are her mother, grandmother, her three maiden aunts, Mr Taylor (the bank manager) Helen herself with brother George and their dogs Gyp and Barney and many others. These narrative paintings were first exhibited at The Saddleworth Art Society in 1965, followed by a London exhibition in 1966, and a sell out exhibition at the appropriately named Carter Gallery in Los Angeles in 1968.

In 1971 Jonathan Cape published the first of four books “And Miss Carter Wore Pink”. This was an instant success. German, French, Dutch and Japanese editions were published, and a special edition produced for the U.S.A. 3 other books were subsequently published, “Miss Carter came With Us”,” In The Beginning said Great Aunt Jane” and “The Queen Who Came to Tea”. All were very successful. Requests for illustrations of her work were satisfied by the publication of 30 Signed Limited Edition Prints, 3 Unsigned Limited Edition Prints and 11 Open Edition Prints. Magazine features, appearances on television and radio endeared this Grandma in her sixties to the general public. Helen Bradley awarded the M.B.E. for services to the arts died on the 19th of July 1979 shortly before she was due to receive her M.B.E. from Her Majesty The Queen. The last 3 years has seen a surge in demand for paintings by Helen Bradley with a world record price of £97,500 being achieved at Auction in the year 2000. “Helen Bradley’s Lancashire” was published ny Halsgrove in October 2002. This excellent book details her life and is extensively illustrated with colour pictures of her paintings.

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