Serendipity?

Brian D. Powell was born in York in 1932. and as a young boy, he frequently accompanied his grandfather down by the River Ouse.

With Britains involvement in WW2 Brian spent many a day ‘sculling’ the (mostly) servicemen/women back and forth across the river. It was during 1944 that Brian Powell, budding artist, spent a day sketching the ‘traffic’ upon the water at the Leeman Road Ferry. There’s a copy of that very scene, opposite.

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Leaving school, Brian completed an electrical apprenticeship, then national service before joining the Fire Service for a career that was to last 30 years. It wasn’t long before Brian rediscovered his passion for art and in 1965 he produced a watercolour depiction of the aforementioned original. This watercolour was presented to a cousin who kept it in the family for over fifty years, until his passing. The painting, along with the contents of his house then went to charity …

At around the time of the house clearance, Pauline Sturchfield and her husband were looking for something that little bit different and found Brian’s watercolour. The condition of the canvas was ‘a little worse for wear’ although they immediately fell in love with the depiction of life by the river, an ideal addition to their home collection as it reminded them of their time ‘sailing’ on the River Ouse. It was only recently that Pauline decided to find out a little more about the artist and the painting.

Brian Powell, today aged 87, lives and paints in Northumberland. He is an active member of his local art community and regularly exhibits his work … never did he think he would have someone contact him, asking for verification of a painting produced – in 1965 … but to his surprise and to Pauline’s credit, this was exactly what Pauline Sturchfield did.

Although, little did Pauline know, that Brian also had a surprise for her! He was still in possession of that original sketch from where the watercolour was painted. Dated 1944.

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I know what you are thinking dear reader, a good ‘yarn’ perhaps? Simply another example of coincidence, serendipity?

I prefer to think of this as a wonderful example of friendships forged by simply reaching out, or how art has that ability to bind a community together. Don’t you think?

FOOTNOTE … Brian D. Powell is not only an accomplished artist. During his time in the Cumbria Fire Service, he was responsible for some of the more profound innovations in health and safety. Brian is recognised as the inventor of today’s portable life raft, the fire safety door, decontamination chamber, HGV anti-spillage valve and much more. He is credited with saving dozens of lives, appeared on BBC television’s Tomorrow’s World and inducted as a fellow of the National Geographic Society. He has published his story, widely available, “Thoughts Of A Watercolour Artist.”

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