The art of being Paul

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DESPITE his artistic talents, Paul Warrender was never one for the limelight.

The self-taught amateur quietly got on with producing his eclectic range of prints while working as a quantity surveyor and raising a family in Sheffield.

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Now, following his death on Christmas Day last year, at the age of 63, Paul is to get the wider audience he deserved.

An exhibition of his work will be held next month at The Circle in Rockingham Lane, off Division Street, in the city centre.

“He never put himself forward,” said his wife, Jude. “He had one or two exhibitions but he was always on to the next project. I promised, when he was failing, that I would do this for him.”

Paul mainly produced prints from lino cuts and etchings, using his vivid imagination, curiosity and humour to create images ranging from landscapes, people and birds to mythological and cartoon-like characters.

Jude and Paul Warrender

Jude and Paul Warrender

He was a committed environmentalist - meeting Jude at Friends of the Earth - and designs that were used on posters, flyers, tickets and publications are to be featured in a book due to be produced by their son, Tom, a computer animator, to coincide with the exhibition.

“When anybody asked him to do a drawing, he did it,” said Jude. “He only ever got paid for one drawing!”

Paul went to Mappin art classes and used facilities at the former Psalter Lane art college. “He practised and somehow developed the skills all his life, but he was always a backroom person.

“I promised I would shine his light because he never sought to do it himself,” said Jude, who lives in a house in Walkley that also contains Paul’s sculptures and mosaics.

“He was still sketching on Christmas Eve, even though he hardly had any strength. He did three little landscapes. He could hardly hold a pen. He just squeezed every little drop out of life. He was an amazing person and he dealt with his illness with such grace.”

Despite being diagnosed with bowel cancer three years earlier, Paul was determined to remain as active as possible, joining Jude in climbing in the Pyrenees, cycling in the Orkney Islands and sailing off the west coast of Scotland.

He lived to see Tom’s name on the credits of two Harry Potter films and their daughter Ruth become a geo-chemist.

Both Paul and Jude were in the Sheffield Folk Chorale, which will sing at a preview of the retrospective, which will feature about 30 of Paul’s pieces and is being curated through the Cupola Gallery with the support of Voluntary Action.

Proceeds from sales of prints and the book will go to charity. A collection at his funeral at Stephen Hill Methodist Church in Crosspool, for which Paul wrote an address, raised more than £1,000 for Tree Aid, which supports tree planting in Africa.

lThe exhibition of Paul Warrender’s prints is at The Circle, Rockingham Lane, from November 28 to January 31.

It is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5.30pm.