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Whose are They?
by Sean Durkin
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In 1972, John Durkin, Sean's Dad, stole a painting depicting St Hilda's Church and old Town Hall from a public art gallery. When he was arrested by police after the theft, he had a ransom letter with three demands. The first demand was that the gallery should have a better alarm system fitted, secondly the gallery should to be opened on Sundays, thirdly, the Mayor should raffle his underpants for charity! Can you spot the nod to the Mayors Pants?!
30.5 inches x 34.25 inches
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Full of irony and narrative, Sean Durkin’s work is simultaneously playful and powerful. Now an acclaimed artist with a loyal following, Sean’s path to becoming an artist is quite the tale, further adding to the impact of his work.
In 1972, his father, John Durkin, stole and held ransom a Lowry painting of Middlesbrough Town Hall and Saint Hilda’s Church from the local art gallery. In exchange for the painting’s safe return, he demanded that the Lord Mayor raffle his underpants for charity and that the gallery be installed with a better alarm system as well as be opened on Sundays “to allow the working man to get some culture”.
Only a boy of eight at the time, Sean recalls coming downstairs the following morning to find the stolen painting on the mantelpiece. He was fascinated by the atmosphere of the painting and the ‘matchstick’ people as they scurried around the scene. He did not realise it at the time, but the painting would have a profound effect on his life, and ultimately inspire him to become an artist himself.
Today, Sean’s atmospheric work pays tribute to the memory of that stolen painting. He enjoys creating rough, textured surfaces to suit the grittiness and mood of his paintings. His paintings are furthermore full of narrative, prompting the viewer to wonder about the lives of the ‘matchstick’ people within. Sean himself adds to this narrative by including a burglar and a policeman in every painting as a reminder of his father’s sensational stunt.
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THE HAWTHORN GALLERY
An independent fine art gallery, family owned and family run, operating from the historic Hare & Hounds pub in Stalybridge, which has been sympathetically converted into a unique gallery experience.