Daughter’s tribute to paintings of artistic dad

Art by Gordon Smee'2.
Art by Gordon Smee'2.

Teacher Jo Edmondson will see her ambition to have her father’s paintings put on public display come to fruition this weekend.

An exhibition of the work of the late Gordon Smee will be opened by the Lord Mayor at Kelham Island Arts Co-operative’s gage gallery on Friday.

The oil paintings only saw the light of day recently when Jo was clearing out her dad’s studio shed in Lincolnshire after he died.

She was taken aback by both the quantity and quality of what she found. “I knew my dad painted, but I had no idea how much he did,” said Jo, aged 52, who lives in Pitsmoor, He never talked about it because he was a very private man. His paintings are technically impressive and he references all the major movements in modern art.”

Gordon Smee trained at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London, after securing an academic scholarship from his grammar school in Gainsborough, and went on to be a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University School of Art.

Jo, a design teacher at Fir Vale School, said: “He retired in 1980 just as conceptual art started to become all the rage. I think he - like many painters - started to become disillusioned with that so he retreated to his studio and rarely displayed his work.”

After her discovery she embarked on a mission to exhibit these works not simply because they were painted by her father but because she feels they deserve an audience.

“The paintings have their own intrinsic value, “ she says. “They are so technically accomplished and even in the abstract ones you can see the years of training in them. At the Slade my dad would sit in a room all day drawing and painting plaster casts.

“Once they mastered that they could then move into the life room. It was intensive training, but you just don’t get that sort of technical tuition at art school now.”

With the help of friends and family she moved the collection into Kelham Island Arts Co-operative to be stored and now a selection will be on display for two weeks. Simon Wigglesworth Baker, who helps run KIAC, says: “In my opinion, as well as the opinions of other artists who have seen the work, the paintings Gordon Smee produced show that he was an outstanding talent whose work would stand in comparison with many other well-known and famous artists of his generation.

“It’s the biggest event we have had at KIAC and from the city of Sheffield’s point of view the collection could be a major asset.”