Penny Ramsden

    • 6 August 2020

      Its latest heroine, Dame Julie Kenny, is centre stage

      Wentworth Woodhouse is the latest inspiration for legendary Sheffield artist Joe Scarborough.
      Joe, 82, has now stamped his inimitable style on a glorious, action-packed oil painting of the Rotherham stately home to help its fundraising.
      He knew the mansion long before, though…
      In his youth, Joe was a miner at Thorpe Hesley Colliery. Every day, when he finished his shift at the coal face and came up from the shaft, there it was on the horizon.
      “I knew it as the Big House and admired it on my way to the pit bath house. I never thought I’d ever step inside it, let alone be asked to paint it,” said Joe, who was a miner for six years before quitting to pursue life as an artist.
      The dazzling colours of daylight which hit him when he got back above ground each working day had inspired him to paint, and he’s never looked back.
      His work now commands thousands and is highly sought-after by collectors. He has his own website, https://joescarboroughart.co.uk/
      Thanks to a commission from Dame Julie Kenny, the Rotherham businesswoman who created the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust and campaigned to purchase and save the Grade I listed mansion, hundreds of supporters can now own a copy of Joe’s latest masterpiece.
      The Trust is selling a limited number of signed prints to raise much-needed funds to regenerate the house, its Stables, Riding School and Camellia House.
      There are 100 canvas versions for sale at £200 and 250 matt and 250 silk prints at £100. Framed versions are also available.
      Said Joe: “I was honoured to be asked by Dame Julie and having seen it all those years ago, was struck by how circuitous life can be. Julie invited me to the house and I was overwhelmed by its beauty and flooded with ideas.
      “I wanted the painting to span several decades and show the life and times that have gone on there.
      I hope fans of the house don’t mind, but I rearranged things a bit – I moved the great chandelier into the Marble Saloon, where a wonderful ball is happening, and took down a wall of the house down to reveal the action inside.”
      Outside, a line of guards from the Marquis’s own regiment and a procession of cars through the ages are arriving… including the early 1900s Sheffield Simplex which Earl Fitzwilliam funded, and those of King George and Queen Mary, who stayed at the house in 1912.
      In the background, the Gate House, Stables, Camellia House and monuments can be seen, along with Lady Mabel College students and cricketers on the Wentworth Green,
      Right in the centre of the picture is Dame Julie.
      “I couldn’t leave her out – she is in the entrance to the Marble Saloon, wearing the pale blue outfit she wore to Buckingham Palace to receive her Damehood,” said Joe, who spent almost four months on the work, which currently hangs at Julie’s home.
      She plans to loan it to the house and a special place has been earmarked for when it opens again in September (Government Covid-9 restrictions permitting).
      “It’s a wonderful artwork in Joe’s inimitable style. He was enthralled with the house and so much of its history is featured. It really tells the story,” said Dame Julie.
      “One of our volunteers suggested the idea at a fundraising meeting. I thought it would be lovely to have a new painting of the place and a great way to raise money. Lockdown has badly affected our income and this is a new way for people who love the house to support us,” added Julie.
      Prints and canvases are available at the pop-up gift shop now open in Wentworth Woodhouse’s open gardens from Weds to Sunday and via the Trust’s new online shop https://bit.ly/31gkkmm