Exhibition celebrating one of Sheffield's best loved artists opening at Weston Park Museum
12 August 2019
A brand new exhibition celebrating one of Sheffield’s best-loved artists is set to open at Weston Park Museum this summer. Joe Scarborough has affectionately documented Sheffield’s history in glorious technicolour in a career spanning over 50 years. Making its debut on Saturday 17 August, Joe Scarborough – Life in the Big Village will bring together over 60 paintings and drawings for the first time in over 25 years.
Joe Scarborough was born in Pitsmoor in 1937. He first began to paint having spent six years working at Thorpe Hesley Colliery and as a miner found his inspiration in the colour and light above ground. After selling his first painting “for a fiver”, Scarborough left the pit and took several labouring jobs which allowed him to paint in the morning and evening.
Support from a sponsor, Cyril Caplin gave Scarborough a life-changing opportunity to focus on his artwork. He went on develop the style and content of his paintings, moving from clipper ships, his favoured early subject, to the depictions of everyday life seen in his work today. He held his first exhibition in 1973 and has gone on to see his work proudly displayed in private homes and public galleries across the world. In 2008, Scarborough was commemorated with Sheffield Legends status on the Walk of Fame outside the city’s Town Hall.
Scarborough has been commissioned to paint many famous Sheffield landmarks, including the University of Sheffield, the National Emergency Services Museum and the Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Life in the Big Village will feature works spanning the breadth of Scarborough’s career:
Street Fight (2008) – Celebrating Scarborough’s love of film and theatre, Street Fight’s vibrant tableau scene includes many cinematic motifs. Inspired by silent cinema, westerns and slapstick, the painting also includes a Sheffield icon – the Granelli’s ice cream van.
Washing Day at Pitsmoor (2018) – Paying tribute to his schooldays and childhood home, Washing Day at Pitsmoor celebrates the familiar domestic scene of laundry pegged on a washing line. Featuring a panoramic view over Sheffield, the painting also includes what Scarborough calls the “international symbol of happiness” – a row of cloth nappies.
Aston Water Heater (2017) – An homage to his grandmother’s post-war home, Scarborough commemorates “the greatest invention – an Aston water heater”. Having spent much of his childhood at his grandmother’s home, for Scarborough these “little palaces”symbolise change “and things getting better”.
Joe Scarborough says:
“From the start of my career my paintings have been inspired by Sheffield and the people who live here. I’ve always seen the city as my native village – from the local pubs and parks to places where people work and live.”
Liz Waring, Curator of Visual Art at Museums Sheffield says:
“We’re absolutely delighted to be celebrating Joe Scarborough’ and his work at Weston Park Museum. His paintings are a real love letter to Sheffield and its people and it’s fantastic to be able to bring so many of them together in one exhibition.”
Joe Scarborough: Life in the Big Village is generously sponsored by Turner and Townsend.
Joe Scarborough: Life in the Big Village opens on Saturday 17 August and continues until Sunday 24 November – entry to the exhibition is free. Please visit museums-sheffield.org.uk for more information.