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Francis Nicholson (1753 - 1844)




Incredible kindnesses



The Nicholson Group has been frankly astounded by the many kindnesses shown both by friends, and by 'friends we didn't even know we had'.


It started small and, much like The Lambton Worm, just "grawed and grawed". The Group's first shot in the dark was an article in The Beacon, Pickering's local free magazine. Two days later, John Atkinson, a retired hay merchant, came up in Pickering Market Place and said "I enjoyed it - do some more". Local farmer, Pete Scaife, said something similar. I suppose it was nothing, but, at the time, it meant everything - someone was listening. Shortly after the Group was formed, we approached Yvette Turnbull of Ryedale District Council for advice on funding. With much good humour, Yvette guided us through the formalities by which we obtained a REACT grant. This financed the printing of our first small book. The Nicholson Group did not have a bank account, so Pickering & District Civic Society agreed to administer the accounts for us. They also offered us two pages on their web-site, and guided us through the torturous planning permission procedure for the plaque. Pickering Town Mayor, Councillor William Oxley, agreed to unveil the plaque. Roger Dowson and his staff at Beck Isle Museum offered a small display area and every encouragement. Christopher Legard of Scampston Hall provided us with photographs of their series of 'stained drawings', and told us to use them in any way we liked. In May, 2010, over a cup of tea, Mike Benson and Andy Dalton of Ryedale Folk Museum granted us a seven week exhibition in their fine new gallery for 2012. It is these local people who, each in their own way, encouraged and helped us to get off the ground. To all of them, we offer our heartfelt thanks.


As the curator of the exhibition, Gordon Bell, searched further and further afield for possible loans, the kindnesses received mushroomed beyond all expectations. To Jeff Cowton at The Wordsworth Trust (who sent no less than twelve items!) Scarborough and York Art Galleries, Whitby and Malton Museums, McTague of Harrogate, Guy Peppiatt Fine Art, The Company of Merchant Adventurers (York) and to the many private collectors who loaned us work, we offer our fondest thanks. A special thanks must be reserved for the W. W. Spooner Charitable Trust who helped finance the exhibition, and for their Chairman, Michael Broughton, who kindly opened it. The best preserved of the self-portraits Nicholson painted between 1835 and 1843 is undoubtedly the version that originated from the Martyn Gregory Gallery of St. James', London. They not only were kind enough to arrange for its loan, but gave permission to use a photograph of it for our publicity, and even to use it for this web-site design! We can never express our thanks sufficiently for those, or for several other kindnesses. The self-portrait was the 'star' of the whole show.


Later in 2012, Gordon Bell curated a second exhibition - this one of prints and engravings - at Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby. We thank, once more, McTague of Harrogate and Whitby Museum, as well as all the private collectors who assisted this exhibition. Also to Councillor John Freeman, the Whitby Town Mayor who generously gave his time to open the exhibition.
photo of Whitby Art Gallery

Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby


Finally, I must thank each individual member of the Nicholson Group, each of whom brought an essential new component to the machine. None of us could have achieved as much as we did without all of the others.


Colin Coulson

6th. November, 2012




Note : Eighteenth and nineteenth century material offered in this site has been taken from eighteenth and nineteenth century documents. Any opinions expressed are, however, entirely my own.