Harry Turner's Episodes of Personal History
Theodore Major    | HISTORY Page | Obituary Page |

Theodore Major Remembered

Was somewhat surprised when Theodore Major, at one time a Northern artist enjoying considerable repute in the days when Lowry was still an up and coming artist, died mid-January but didn't get a mention on the obit page of the Garudian, which was cluttered by a lot of worthies I'd never heard of. However they finally redeemed themselves on Saturday.

Major used to be a leading light of the Manchester Group, back in the late forties and fifties. I met him many times at the Midday Studios, a gallery once housed in the basement of a now-demolished office block at the back of Mosley Street, near Central Library.

Eventually he fell out with the local art establishment, the small galleries and Manchester Academy, and stopped exhibiting his work, so I lost track of him in the sixties. Then when the poll tax was introduced, he hit the local headlines for refusing to pay the charge for the house next door, on the grounds that it was empty apart from storing his pictures.

The press made a big thing about an old unsociable recluse being hounded down by the local council. It appeared he'd just spent his later years, after his wife's death, dependent on the state pension, painting but not showing any of his work, letting it accumulate in this next door house. Eventually, public opinion forced the council to stop hounding him down. Now it appears that there are thousands of undated paintings waiting to be sorted and assessed. ■

Letter to Brian Varleys, March 1999

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