“In its entirety, Sheffield hasn’t changed a great deal,” said painter Joe Scarborough, who has lived and worked in this city most of his life. “It has always been very hilly and not the most fashionable city with its old-fashioned work ethic – if you’re not working on a Monday, it feels strange.”
Joe has been painting for over 40 years and his work has been widely documented. Not only art work around Sheffield but many other countries like Greece, northern Spain and Ireland.
After the death of his wife, Joe moved to live on a barge currently anchored in Victoria Quays. Here his main focus for drawing has been Sheffield and in particular areas around Pitsmoor and Burngreave where he grew up.
Joe explained about the work currently in progress called the ‘Pitsmoor quartet’. This consists of four major paintings based around Burngreave. The ‘quartet’ includes scenes of Pyebank School and three of his local pubs (Royal Oak, Grapes and Gower Arms) as well as a trip from a working men’s club and a wedding ceremony.
As Joe made a coffee, I asked what inspired him to become an artist.
“My father fired my enthusiasm by accumulating his own library of books and pictures. I’d find myself looking at pictures and nothing much else. My father’s influence has been very strong as he was a well-known character, socialist and a great self improver.”
He also shared with me a favourite quote: “The only way out of Pitsmoor is by the book!” Joe declared, adding that’s he’s always used this quote for inspiration.
Beginning working life in the pits of Thorpe Hesley, Joe said that being in the mine without daylight gave him further inspiration to paint, “Everything was brilliant,” referring to the effect sunlight had once out of the pit. “For just fifteen seconds it looks like a colour spectrum then quickly it would return to a dirty yard on an autumn day,” he recalled. “My heart was then set on becoming a painter and after a mining accident I pursued this ambition and have never looked back since.”
Joe aims to have his ‘Pitsmoor quartet’ paintings exhibited in August and makes a request for old photos from 1946–55 to use as part of the exhibition. Weddings, photos, war pictures that include people returning from the wars. If you can help, contact Joe on 07729 630 409.
by Brent Moya