THE Friends of Darwen Library have reported a boom in interest in the work of the late Darwen artist James Hargreaves Morton.

The group has sold half-a-dozen of his oils, pastels and water colours to local collectors in recent weeks. Most of it had only been displayed once in 100 years, at the 1971 auction of his work.

Among recent visitors to the current Morton exhibition was former Guardian art critic David Ward who coined the line ‘cotton town impressionist’ and which figured prominently in the group’s recent book on the artist’s life.

Mr Ward reviewed a show at Lancaster University nine years ago and wrote that Morton ‘was no amateur dauber’ and ‘he was in touch with European trends and movements’.

Morton’s career was just taking off when he went to war, where he died in 1918 aged just 37.