I first became acquainted with David when he had the Bridge Street Gallery. My husband’s Aunt Jessie took painting lessons with him and every Thursday David would go to her home for dinner. Afterwards she would load him up with pies etc to take home.
He was often in the area where I live and I can see him now walking down New Road with his stool, canvas and paints. On occasions, if he could see my car on the drive, he would call in for a chat and sometimes come for a meal.
If he was in town he often called in my shop, Bourne’s of Burnley, just for a chat when he was out looking for someone to paint. One day he asked if I would sit for him and I agreed. When it got to about 11am every Sunday he would say perhaps we can go up to The Waggoners for a plate pie lunch; he really loved his food. The painting took ages: I think he liked his free Sunday lunch.
I loved the portrait; it is a very good likeness painted in earthly colours. I managed to get him three commissions on the back of it: the daughter of a girl who worked for me; the late Enid Tate; and the late Cynthia Sanderson. I also had him paint my grandson. I always knew when he had been paid as he would bring some flowers. These portraits were used in the portrait exhibition at Towneley Hall.
At Christmas he would play Father Christmas at my shop.
He enjoyed singing and would entertain on boat trips on the canal from the wharf at the Weavers’ Triangle. Burnley’s answer to Pavarotti, he had an excellent singing voice.
I have for many years been involved with the Bronte Society and when they were doing an exhibition of Branwell’s paintings, I asked him to the preview and in his direct manner he said in a loud voice, “rubbish artist, can you not see he painted the body and later added heads”? The room was in uproar; the curator Jane Sellars arrived and saved my day. She hugged him and told the crowd how she got to know him as a result of seeing a painting he had in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
I personally think he missed his way by leaving Rome to return to Burnley but his mother was very ill and David told me it was the main reason for his return. Many of his paintings, such as the one of Towneley Hall, have an unfinished look about them. I think he enjoyed reworking them.
David should and will long be remembered. He was a good friend who will be sorely missed.