The paint has finally dried on a canvas by Dales artist Diana
Rosemary Lodge of former Wharfedale Farmers Auction Mart manager
Ben Atkinson – five years after it was first commissioned.
Here’s looking at you! Ben Atkinson finally gets sight
of artist Rosemary Lodge’s handiwork
Mind you, the delay wasn’t all down to the well-known
Burnsall artist, famed for her agricultural-related works and
Dales scenes, but a series of misfortunes that befell the farming
industry, the subject of the painting and – latterly -
the painter herself.
The oil painting of Mr Atkinson on his beloved auctioneer’s
podium at the Otley mart was the brainchild of his immediate
family. They first commissioned it in 2001 with the intention
that it should be a permanent reminder of Mr Atkinson’s
37 years at the mart.
It was soon after that a whole series of events intervened to
prevent Rosemary picking up her brush and making the first strokes.
She takes up the story in her own words. “The first setback
was the foot and mouth outbreak. On the very day I planned to
make a start on the work - I first needed to study Mr Atkinson
selling at the auction mart – the outbreak was officially
confirmed and everything came to a sudden stop, so we had to
put the painting on hold.
“When matters eventually got back to normal, I went over
to the mart to get things moving again, only to discover that
Mr Atkinson had suffered a heart attack and would be out of action
for a long time. Later, I learned that he had actually retired
as auction mart manager.
“I left my name and address at the mart office just in
case he was ever called back in an emergency to stand in as auctioneer,
although I didn’t hold out much hope.
“However, some time later I received a phone call that
the usual auctioneer was ill and Mr Atkinson was taking his place.
I hurried down to Otley straight away and for two weeks I was
able to study him closely selling sheep. I finally made a start
on the painting after that.
“All was going well until last October when I badly injured
my right wrist – my painting hand! – and it was in
pot for four months. When it came off, I could hardly use my
hand, so it was this summer before I actually completed the painting.
It was one final stroke that was more than welcome!”
The work measures 3ft x 2ft and features many familiar faces
Mr Atkinson would have regularly seen at the ringside, including
his son Andrew, a prominent sheep dealer.
Rosemary has also produced a number of limited edition prints
of the painting, which are available for sale.
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