AN exhibition showcasing the work of Bolton-born artist David Livesey is now showing at his hometown museum.
Best known for his work as an animator on classics such as The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, The Snowman and The Wind in the Willows, former Bolton School of Art student, Mr Livesey, is swapping his cartoons for reality as he reveals memories of his childhood during the Second World War in My Northern Paintings.
He started working on them after moving to the Isle of Man 10 years ago.
They focus on his memories of growing up in his grandparents’ house in Cemetery Road during the 1940s.
He has created a fascinating cast of characters who lived and worked nearby, capturing the town as it was then.
Mr Livesey, who still lives in Port St Mary on the Isle of Man, said: “I have retired from animation, which I did for about 45 years. I did a bit of painting then, but because I ran my own company I couldn’t commit to doing it so put it on the back burner.
“Sadly my wife died so I moved to the Isle of Man in 2003 and decided to take it up again.
“The exhibition is all about memories from my childhood, and that incorporates things that don’t even exist anymore, such as spiky railings and vestibule doors.”
The paintings are all narrative — telling the story of a young boy’s memories before and during the Second World War.
Mr Livesey said: “I have really good memories of growing up in Bolton. My father decided to go on an expedition to find gold when I was just three so my mum looked after us and moved us to Preston.
“Then when the war began I was sent to my grandparents’ house and the paintings have come from that, from about 1937 to 1945.”
The paintings range from the happy Sunflower, Malcolm and Me image about him and his younger brother sat in the garden with the tall sunflowers which could be seen over the wall, to the more eerie Blackout painting.
Mr Livesey said: “I guess it was a really big adventure then. One picture shows the affect of the blackout with the white lines painted on the edge of the pavement.
“The thing is, a lot of places don’t exist any more. Cemetery Road has not been badly affected so a lot is still recognisable.
“In the Sunflower, Malcolm and Me painting my brother is sat down in the chair but wanted to stand on the stool behind where I am, hence the look on his face.
“My grandmother had a parrot and found some sunflower seeds in his feed and planted them in the garden and the flowers grew so tall they could be seen over the wall.
“With Goin ‘ter Pub, it was common for women to wash windows because they couldn’t afford window cleaners to clean away the soot from the chimneys.”
Mr Livesey left home aged 17 where he began a successful career.
He said: “When I left home I lived a totally different life in London, but many artists are affected by their childhood, such as Salvador Dali on the beach, and so was I. I’m still doing the paintings so hopefully there will be many more to come.”
The paintings are on display at Bolton Museum.
Cllr Anthony Connell, cabinet member for culture, libraries and sport said: “David Livesey has worked on some of the most famous and well-loved animated films of all time, but until now his connection with Bolton has not been reflected in his work. We are delighted to be showcasing a series of his paintings, which reflect his early life in Bolton and show the people and places where he grew up.”
For more information about the exhibition call the Bolton Museum on 01204 332211.