TRIBUTES have been paid to the popular Burnley artist David Wild, who has died at the age of 83.

Mr Wild, whose work is displayed in galleries and museums throughout England, died on Sunday after a year-long illness and a recent stroke.

Craig Simpson, one of Mr Wild’s closest friends, said the eccentric Rosehill Road man was ‘possibly the finest painter this town has ever produced’.

Mr Wild, who attended Burnley Grammar School, spent three years at London’s Slade School of Fine Art before he won the 1955 Abbey Scholarship in Painting, which allowed him to further his studies in Rome, Italy.

He went on to teach art at Burnley Arts School and Padiham Technical College and was a founder member of the Friends of the Weavers' Triangle and the Pendle Artists’ Group.

Mr Simpson, who knew Mr Wild for more than 30 years and visited him in Royal Blackburn Hospital last week, said: “His output was huge and his work various in topic.

“He drew and painted portraits of local townsfolk.

“He could often be seen in the local pubs where he would drink, sing, chat or simply draw people or discuss his latest paintings. He was a character.”

Mr Wild, who painted subjects including former Burnley MP Peter Pike and Clarets legend Jimmy McIlroy, worked from a studio in Bridge Street for 40 years and his work remains on display in Towneley Hall.

His paintings graced venues throughout England, including the Royal Academy’s 1973 summer exhibition in London, the Walker Gallery, Liverpool, and the Library Theatre, Manchester, as well as East Lancashire attractions like Accrington’s Haworth Gallery and Burnley Central Library.

Nick Hunt, creative director at Mid Pennine Arts, said: “I remember David was working with us on the celebration of the Leeds Liverpool Canal for the Millennium.

“He curated a fabulous, atmospheric event that we did which lit up the canal throughout Burnley”

Mr Wild, who never married, leaves a sister, Freda.