Appeal for Joe Scarborough paintings: ‘We want to build an archive’

Joe Scarborough with some of his paintings in 2009.
Joe Scarborough with some of his paintings in 2009.

For decades the artist Joe Scarborough has painted cheerful, detailed scenes of Sheffield life.

But keeping a record of each of his works was never a priority as he took commissions, exhibited pieces and sold pictures to pay the bills.

A detail of Joe Scarborough's painting Sheffield Through The Ages, on show at Weston Park Museum. Picture: Scott Merrylees

A detail of Joe Scarborough's painting Sheffield Through The Ages, on show at Weston Park Museum. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Now Joe is appealing for people to come forward if they own original Scarborough paintings – in the hope he can authenticate them, make a thorough record of his output, make prints or even buy them back.

His patron, entrepreneur Stephen Eyre, explained that Joe's work is increasing in value, commanding prices in the thousands.

"The ones we own we have copies of, but usually people just bought them as paintings – there will be no copies, just one original and that will be it," he said. "So we want to see them."

The businessman has just helped Joe to launch a new website and an online shop, and the artist has signed a deal with Castle Galleries to promote and sell his work. The group has initially chosen three Scarborough originals and will produce 95 prints of each one, to be sold for £495 apiece.

"They're reproducing it in a 3D print, so it feels like an original oil painting. They look unbelievable. He's 80 now so for him it's all about his legacy. He wants to be remembered after he's gone."

Joe was born in Pitsmoor. After toiling as a miner at Thorpe Hesley colliery he held down various jobs and dreamed of being a full-time painter, selling pictures from a handcart in local pubs. He dedicated his time to art after meeting his wife, Audrey; she died in 2002, after which he lived in a narrowboat on Victoria Quays. In 2008 his status as a Sheffield legend was confirmed when he was honoured with a star on the 'walk of fame' outside the Town Hall.

Stephen said his friend was 'probably one of Sheffield's most famous sons'. "He didn't have any commercial guidance, they were selling prints at a tobacco shop, sticking one up in the window for thirty quid. I said to Joe, 'Let's do it properly'."

Joe believes he has put his name to as many as 1,000 paintings over the past 60 years. Some were sold to companies - The Star has a couple at its offices - and Weston Park Museum has a nine-metre panorama called Sheffield Through The Ages, but many simply went to individuals.

"The ideal size, he always says, was to fit on a chimney fireplace of a council house. There must be hundreds out there. People will not know what they're worth."

The authentication service is free. Owners of artworks will receive a certificate and a valuation, and in most cases people will be offered a price to sell directly to Joe, or through the website on a commission basis. There is also the option of allowing Joe to produce a limited edition of 50 prints, to be signed and numbered by the artist and sold with an agreement to share profits.

Stephen said: "Even if they say they don't want any prints, we'll say 'Can we take an image and put it on our website?' It just builds up a body of work. He can't remember what he's done, or who he's sold them to. We want to build an archive up."

He stressed that collectors are not allowed to make prints themselves for financial gain. "If they do it through us it's all official and sanctioned. There will be people with Joe Scarboroughs that are worth - depending on how big they are - 10 or 15 grand now. They have no idea, they might literally be in the attic somewhere."

Joe is interested to see how his style has evolved 'from when he started at 20 and came out of the pit to now', said Stephen. "That's another story we want to investigate. It's fun to work with and he's such a nice guy."

Email hello@joescarboroughart.co.uk or visit www.joescarboroughart.co.uk for further details.