People’s gallery celebrates Gloria’s paintings

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Word has it that most houses around Benderloch have a Gloria Young artwork on the wall.

To celebrate the colourful Tralee artist, now in her 91st year, The Rockfield Centre is hosting a retrospective exhibition of her work later this month.

To get the three-day exhibition started, the centre is asking people to bring along their own Gloria Young pictures to display in a people’s gallery as part of a special In Conversation evening with the much-loved artist, starting at 7pm with cheese and wine on Thursday May 16.

The main exhibition then opens on Friday May 17 and will run until Sunday May 19 with viewing from 11am to 4pm.

Since 1968, Gloria has sold almost 2,000 paintings with each and every one recorded in a little black book.

After art school in London, trying to make a living as an artist in Wiltshire was a struggle so she became a reluctant civil servant at a military base.

It was there that she met her husband, Derek Young, and the couple started to plan their future, and running a children’s home was one idea.

A tip off from Derek’s Scottish aunt that Oban Youth Hostel was looking for someone to run it led the couple to the start of a very happy life together in Argyll.

After a decade of running the hostel, Gloria’s mother gave them enough money to follow their dream and buy a piece of land at Tralee to build a home studio and shop that they went on to run for 29 years.

Derek, a character in his own right who once flew a glider without a motor over Ben Nevis and back to Oban, fashioned a little trailer in those early days to tag on to Gloria’s bike so she could take herself off to ‘spoiled for choice’ places to paint.

She had started out with oils but soon found West Coast insects and transporting fresh work in the trailer was not an easy mix and switched to less sticky watercolours instead.

The shop and success of her paintings took off. In the summer months she would also hire a little room in Benderloch to sell her work on the main drag through the village. Unknown to her customers, she would make little sketches of some of them under the counter for future inspiration.

Gloria’s work is charming and loved by many, capturing the humorous, the human and the beauty of the natural world.

The 90-year-old, who  is still painting, also teaches art and gives piano lessons. Coming from a long line of artists in the family, Gloria has a son living in America as a successful artist and a granddaughter about to start art school.

‘I’m not painting day and night like I did years ago but I still enjoy it. I’m looking forward to the exhibition and especially seeing some of my old paintings again that people bring. I might want to buy them back!’ she said.

Over the years Gloria has also produced humorous sketches for four charity calendars in aid of Cancer Research UK, a cause close to her art.

Entry to both Rockfield events is free but any donations from the In Conversation evening will go to the centre. Proceeds from sales of paintings from the retrospective exhibition will go to Cancer Research UK.