Art Friends link up for Newcastle-under-Lyme Exhibition

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Mike Cain (L) and Dave Harper (R). Image by Alun Callender.

A friendship forged in the classroom over a shared love of art 40 years ago is one of the main inspirations for a new exhibition in Newcastle.

50 FORTY is a stunning selection of paintings, sculptures and ceramics made by Staffordshire artists Mike Cain and Dave Harper over the past half a century.

Mike, who was born in the borough, first met Dave in 1979 during his first teaching job
when Dave was the school’s first A Level Art student and the first to go to art college.

Mike and Dave stayed in touch and became firm friends, sharing studio space and working together on creative collaborations. The pair later formed the Penkhull Artist Potters Association to exhibit their work together.

Both Mike and Dave now describe themselves as abstract artists – with Mike concentrating on oil paintings and Dave on geometric relief sculptures. Visitors to the Brampton Museum will be able to see how their styles have changed over the years in a brand new exhibition.

The popular Council-run attraction also holds special memories for Mike, who attended the Burslem School of Art, because it was the venue for his first public exhibition 50 years ago.

Mike said: “We’ve been tracking down paintings and sculptures from private collections and bringing them together for 50 FORTY. It’s been almost two years in the planning and
includes a real cross section of our work as well as a retrospective element. We have
managed to borrow a lithograph of mine which was used as the front cover of a 1970
edition of Time Out magazine. There will also be paintings of Wolstanton Colliery along with more recent ceramic work.”

Dave added: “I think we’ve supported and helped each other over the years, but I will
always be grateful to Mike for getting me started as an artist. When no one you know
understands art or going to art school, it takes a good deal of confidence and support to
make it happen and he was there to help me. Sharing a studio and working alongside each other has benefited us both creatively.”

50 FORTY launches on Saturday, 18 January and runs until Tuesday, 25 February.
Admission and parking is free.