This page provides additional information and imagery relating to Sam Walsh’s work. Underlined words link to the artwork the entry relates to.
Google’s ‘top’ art sources follow Wikipedia’s lead on Hitchens. None make any mention of the St. Ives school. It’s whispered Walsh met Hitchens early in his career and it’s possible there may be a link between the St. Ives school, Hitchens and Walsh’s early abstract landscapes.
Walsh with Macmillan c.1960’s
Photograph taken at Hope Place, nearby the then Foundation Studies building in Liverpool, the artist with his painting of Macmillan c.1962-67.
Alternatively titled The Gallery. Original slide from a collection for which the camera lens was contaminated with dust and hair particles. Photograph taken in the back garden of Sam Walsh and Ros McAlister’s house on Greenheys Rd, Liverpool, UK in the 1970’s. Main page image has been digitally edited.
Affectionately referred to as “Virgil” though it may have been sourced from a photograph of the character Scott, based on the characters from the 1960’s children’s TV show Thunderbirds. Unfortunately as with a lot of the airbrush work, cracking and chipping has occurred, as shown in the detail above. Main page image has been digitally edited.
(Character copyright © ITV Studios, concept employed as a Transformative Work under Fair Use Policy and is not being displayed for the financial gain of the website author.)
Original slide. Image sourced from a collection of slides contaminated with dust and hair particles. Possible materials, gouache on paper. Main page image has been digitally edited.
Verso: Title, signature, contemporaneous address and price.
Unfortunately information about this is sketchy at best, with apologies. It is possible that the owner of this is one Les Palmer, originally from Trinidad, who some say is connected with the origins of the Notting Hill Carnival. It’s also rumoured he was in a Reggae band in the 1970’s called The Royals, who are said to have played at key 1970’s Liverpool music venue Eric’s. He was a friend of Sam Walsh’s and Spud Nolan’s (Nolan appears in Walsh’s painting The Dinner Party). Recent information (c. 2017) suggests someone who met the owner in Trinidad said the owner wanted to try and get the work shipped back to the UK, possibly to be taken care of by The Walker Art Gallery, but it seems this would have been impractical for various reasons, which means the painting probably remains in Trinidad.
Verso: Title and signature.
Verso: Woman in a room with a window. Apparently the artist wasn’t satisfied with it, re-using the canvas for another work. The window itself bears comparison with the French doors in a flat Walsh lived in from the mid 1960’s to the early 1970’s, situated on Ashfield Rd, Liverpool, UK.
Male figure in blue, somewhat melancholy, possibly represents the artist, countryside in background, plough, wheel, perhaps intended to be paired with Springfield Mountain (1965), which, though the title references the singer Dusty Springfield, possibly represents Ireland and the artist’s sister Mary. It could be speculated these works represents the artist’s sadness at leaving Ireland. Details: the first shows damage where some of the paint has flaked, illustrating how the artist often couldn’t afford decent materials in the early 1960’s; the second image shows the pencil drawn outline of a figure to the left of the painted figure.
Verso: Signature and title.
(L to R) Sam Walsh, Arthur Ballard, Jim Weston, Peter Mousdale, John Baum, Maurice Cockrill. Taken in Colomendy, Wales. (Thanks to Colin Simpson.)
Sam Walsh sketch for the 1973 exhibition Communication. The idea being to have a life size sculpture as if viewing (what would turn out to be) the painting Affirmation and Negation’s the Name of the Game 1973. (Thanks to Colin Simpson.)
The context I saw the Rembrandt painting in as a child was a small alcove area secreted within a long hallway. It was minimally lit, like much of Rembrandt’s work in fact. It would often cause me to stop in silence alone in the hallway mesmerised by its power and mystery, something not possible to convey on a website. Appropriate to a child’s scale, it seemed huge, dominating the darkened space and due to the environment and lighting, mainly black, the details appeared as though in candlelight. The images below differ from the main page image, which I have presented akin to how I saw it as a kid. LW
Shown here: a current photograph of the painting, reverse side details and a slide from the later 1960’s, probably taken in Liverpool 8. The Panda logo is probably the hardboard manufacturer’s insignia. Unfortunately, some of the airbrush works have discoloured over time. This can be seen below, comparing the recent photograph and the one taken in the 1960’s. Possibly this is the result of a chemical process relating to the hardboard yellowing and superseding the white and pink of the original work.
Apparently Walsh repainted this piece around 1963-64. This occurred between the time of purchase and the time the buyer collected it. A reproduction of text and images from the college CF Mott’s magazine Motto shows the portrait as it looked prior to repainting. Also depicted in the magazine photos are Three Figures c. 1962-1968 and a work probably of similar dimensions and materials as the Jagger, depicting General Custer, which by all accounts burnt in a fire in 1966. No other Custer reproductions exist. The main website image attempts to balance the exposure between photos of the Mick Jagger piece which vary in colour definition, thus probably differs from the original. The difference in colour between the source images is shown below.
Seen below is the only source photograph for this painting. Records indicate it was probably taken in winter 1966 or 1967. Sam Walsh is shown on the left accompanied by an unnamed person on the right, both looking cool in the American Beat Movement style of the era. An extensive digital editing process had to be undertaken to produce the main website image. Poor colour levels and staining on the slide mean a number of details will differ from the original, most notably the radio, which was a cut and paste photograph from a magazine or poster, a technique Walsh used more than once in his work (see the radio in J Edgar Hoover 1964, the oxygen mask in General II 1967 and the armour and newsprint in Spaceman 1967). The editor of the website image did see the painting in the 1960’s/70’s, so the main image’s general colour is as close to the original as recall allows.
Quote from Paul McCartney (Mike’s Brother) 1964 National Portrait Gallery website page and the book 100 Portraits, p. 5
Gibson, Robin; Clerk, Honor, 20th Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1993, p. 33
The portrait is ironically entitled Mike’s Brother since it was Mike McCartney, a photographer, who was a friend of the artist Sam Walsh and not his world-famous brother, the Beatle. In 1964 when the portrait was painted, Beatlemania was at its height: it was the year of the album and film A Hard Day’s Night, the album Beatles for Sale, the MBEs, the coast-to-coast USA tour and three UK number one hits including Can’t Buy Me Love, the first record to top the UK and USA charts simultaneously. The phenomenon had another six years to run before the Beatles disbanded in 1970. Sam Walsh was born in Ireland and went to Liverpool ‘for the weekend’ in 1960, but stayed for the rest of his life. He became a member of the Liverpool Academy in 1966 and taught at Liverpool College of Art from 1968.
Black & white reproduction and a late 1960’s colour slide photographed outdoors in Liverpool 8. Main page image has been updated with an edited version of the colour slide. Only the b&w version was available publicly up until Dec 2020.
These slides are the only reproductions known to exist of the painting; photographs taken in the late 1960’s in an outdoor setting in Liverpool 8. The main page image has been edited to compensate for the apparent overemphasis of blue light in the photographs. In editing from the source, though a large amount of particles and hairs were edited out of the image, some of the grit and dirt that was evident on the right side of the reproductions has been deliberately left in, since it is an area that is already distorted by the aura of the shadow affecting the originals.
Main page image is digitally restored from a slide that was photographed shortly after the painting’s completion in 1980 in Sam Walsh and Ros McAlister’s house on Greenheys Rd, Liverpool. That photo is shown below on the left. On the right is a photograph of the painting as exhibited at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery in 2013. Though there are differences in colour emphasis in the images (more pinks in one, more blues in the other), it is possible that the background may have been either painted over after sale or the original colour has faded. In a photo in the National Museums Liverpool website article about the painting’s donation to the Walker, Ros McAlister, who had an integral part in the technical process of the painting’s creation, can be seen wearing a jacket that is similar in colour to the original painting’s background, which adds further evidence that the painting has changed over time.
Possible original title Sam and Bumble. Only one source, a slide from 1980 with only limited resolution but enough to convey the image. Writing on source image indecipherable. The artist kept ducks in the Walsh – McAlister back garden around the time. There are accounts that the duck followed the artist up a busy road to the shops and back on one occasion but had to be discouraged from doing so upon further attempts.