Theodore Major

Started by: jo anne (33386) 

Museum of Wigan Life is hosting a free online Zoom talk:

'Theo and his Monsters'
By Michael Howard
Thu 17th Dec, 7pm - 8pm

Museum of Wigan Life / Facebook / @WiganMuseum

Theodore Major (1908-1999) was a Wigan born artist.

In 1994, five years before he died, Theodore wrote ‘I am still busy painting - it’s my only escape from all the cruelty in the world, but I must express it all in paint’.
With incredible energy he produced around 300 extraordinary works, his ‘Monster’ paintings, into which he poured all the pain, anger, humour, frustration and love that had nourished a lifetime’s dedication to his art.

Michael Howard is a writer and lecturer. He has written numerous books, including 'L.S. Lowry, A Visionary Artist' and 'Ghislaine Howard, the Human Touch'. He is currently working on a major publication dedicated to Theo, 'Walking on Fire'.

Book a place - here

Started: 16th Dec 2020 at 07:56

Posted by: jo anne (33386) 

Some of Theo’s magical Monster paintings were displayed in an exhibition at The Fire Within HQ last year.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 08:11

Posted by: momac (11307) 

jo anne,many years ago when we were out for a drive with the little ' husband who was a postman at the time said ""we're near Theo Major's house come on let's have a look" Theo was climbing a ladder outside, Theo said " hello" my hubby said "hello Mr Major my missus loves painting could she have a look at a couple of yours" he invited us in,his paintings were nearly all stood up on the floor around the room..we thanked him of course and he was a lovely kind man.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 12:02

Posted by: JR (191)

Jo Anne, I have always been a big fan of Theo, right back to when I was 17 (that's 50 years ago). My dad was a fan too. I actually got to meet him during his 'Monster' period and saw freshly painted works and one in progress.
I was introduced to him by a friend and artist. She took me to see him one Sunday and I spent the day with him. He was quite ill by then and was in his bed in the living room next to a roaring coal fire.
Momac, you are right about the stacked paintings, I could hardly move as they were stacked in every room with only a tight space to get about; even the attic and upstairs bedrooms were stacked with paintings. He had bought the house next door and stacked his paintings there too. There was just one free bedroom next door where he painted.
Sue and I helped him outside and into his second house and up the stairs to the see the new series of Monster paintings. He was very emotional about cruelty in the world and explained how he was endeavouring to capture it. It was wonderful to see the fresh, energetic and dynamic work that this now frail man was producing.
The day was very memorable and he gave me two signed prints and his book which he signed. I was quite active in art at the time but hadn't painted for a good while. He encouraged me to paint again and also told me to be bold, paint for myself and nobody else, change direction, experiment, explore, discover, etc... He then finished by giving me some tips and whispered them into my ear as though they were treasured secrets. He told me many tales including his one time friendship with Lowry, but also arguments with the Council and added that he loved Wigan with a passion but hated what the Council had done to the town. His emotions could range through sorrow, kindness, enthusiasm, grumbling and rage within one mere sentence.
Such a remarkable artist and man; such a memorable experience for me.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 14:39

Posted by: momac (11307) 

J R, could you tell me exactly where he lived,the reason I'm asking is..I have the picture in my mind of his house being set back off a main road and it was painted hubby who I said was at one time a postman always said that he lived on a main rd..he should really know better being a postman at the time,is my memory wrong..I do hope you can tell me it's puzzled me for many years..his house as I remember looked more like a cottage or is my hubby right.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 14:52

Posted by: tonker (23046) 

An old acquaintance of mine, he's dead now, had many of his paintings that he'd (supposedly) done for him as they were good friends. Apparently, he could produce one in ten minutes if he wanted.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 15:15

Posted by: momac (11307) 

I wish I could.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 15:21

Posted by: tonker (23046) 

You probably could. And they'd probably be just as crap as his were!

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 15:30

Posted by: momac (11307) 

Lots of people don't think they're crap though do they.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 15:41

Posted by: Anne (3868) 

He was born in the same year as my mother so they progressed through early school years as classmates. She said he always had holes in his socks. It must have been St. Catherine's. In later years he became friends of an aunt (my mothers sister) and uncle of mine, although I never met him he was spoken of often. Monac he lived in Appley lane, two semi detached.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 15:49

Posted by: JR (191)

Hi Momac. I can't recall everything in detail as my head was in a whirl just thinking about meeting him. However, it was on the main road through Appley Bridge and was set back with a garden at the front and rear. His house as I can remember was the left of the 2 semi detached, but the house he later acquired for additional paintings was to the left again (detached from his house). It looked more like a traditional old semi to me rather than a cottage. It may have been the white paint you refer to that suggested a cottage. The interior was certainly of the type many of my relatives lived in.
I think his reluctance to sell art and his relatively reclusive living ensured that his art remained fairly unknown internationally and perhaps nationally. But there were critics that got to know about him and wrote some very good critique on his work. I much prefer Major to Isherwood who actually made a bit of a decent living from art. I think Theo's dedication to art made him very honest; he had no pressure to create commissions and devoted 8 hours a day or more to perfecting his work.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 15:51

Posted by: momac (11307)'s still a mystery,it's totally different to what I have in my mind..thinking about it now he was climbing the ladder which would indicate that it was a cottage..I even remember stepping over the threshold,I'm supposed to have a really good memory but now I wonder,I've looked on Google,seen photos of his's just a mystery.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 16:07

Posted by: momac (11307) 

Tonker,have a toot at Theo's self portrait as a young man,its brilliant,there's no way I could paint that in ten minutes.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 16:10
Last edited by momac: 16th Dec 2020 at 16:27:28

Posted by: JR (191)

Momac, I have always thought I had a good memory too but sometimes I find contradictions in what I originally thought to be 100% true. My wife is a psychologist and suggests that very important memories and recent memories are stored where they are easily retrieved, but some are stored deeper; these older memories often become distorted and re-fashioned by our ideals.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 16:18

Posted by: momac (11307) 

JR I understand what you're saying,but I even remember him saying as went over his threshold."You won't let the children pick any of the paintings up will you"? to which I said no they're really well behaved.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 16:32

Posted by: JR (191)

Wow, your children got the experience to meet him too. That must be wonderful for them. My son was with me the day I met Theo. I was hoping he would go into art as he was talented; but he eventually carved out a good profession in structural engineering.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 16:50

Posted by: tonker (23046) 

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 17:47

Posted by: momac (11307) 


Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 18:07

Posted by: Axcroft (192)

There are 6 pairs of identical semis on Appley Lane South and I think his two were in the middle (unattached) of the row. The house he lived in had a nameplate / plaque entitled "Art", in quite large letters.

Great stories.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 18:28

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (6581)

Tonker said:

"You probably could. And they'd probably be just as crap as his were!"

They are so horrible, that they hurt me eyes to look at them

This is that self-portrait which was mentioned

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 19:02

Posted by: momac (11307) 

That's not the one I mentioned Tommy.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 19:20

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (6581)

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 19:21

Posted by: tonker (23046) 

He painted this image, through a medium, who passed on the vibes to a local painter and decorator, which enabled him to paint the image whilst in a trance, spiritually induced from the 'other saaaaide'. Laaaaike.
When the painter and decorator woke up from the trance, the day after, his first words were, "For f*&%'s sake, who's done that"!

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 19:28
Last edited by tonker: 16th Dec 2020 at 19:32:27

Posted by: jarvo (30011) 

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 19:32

Posted by: i-spy (14979) 

He and Isherwood were totally different but quite mad characters. Major wouldn't sell his work while Isherwood was happy to swop his for whatever he needed at that moment. Like Major his house on Wigan Lane was packed with paintings. These days both are collectible.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 21:17

Posted by: momac (11307) 


Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 23:09

Posted by: broady (16573) 

We have an Isherwood in one of the bedrooms.

Replied: 16th Dec 2020 at 23:55

Posted by: i-spy (14979) 

Keep hold of it

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 00:10

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 

Thank you JR for your account of the day you spent with Theo I really enjoyed your description of how the day was

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 08:37

Posted by: jo anne (33386) 

Thanks everyone for the comments so far. Momac and JR, what fantastic memories, I’m a bit envious of you both.

Tonker & TTS, what can I say!

Art is subjective, but Theo’s work was so diverse that I’m sure there’s something amongst it you’d laaaike. Or not.

It wows me anyway.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 08:39

Posted by: TerryW (6276)

Bernard McMullen (b.1952) -'Theodore Major at Work', depicting the artist painting in his Studio which was actually the house next door to his own house, oil on canvas, signed and dated December (19)92, titled to front also, inscribed to verso by hand 'Theodore at Work, 71/73 Appley Lane South, Appley Bridge, Near Wigan', also 'Painted by Myself on Visiting Theodore Major's home, December 1992, B. McMullen.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 09:37

Posted by: momac (11307) 

That's a really beautiful painting.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 09:45

Posted by: TerryW (6276)

It is and it looks like Theodore is painting a portrait of ET.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 09:50

Posted by: JR (191)

The painting in the window of the painting looks a bit like 'Figure With Two Heads' which is depicted in the book ' Major' by Mary Gaskell. But I certainly haven't seen all of his work so it could be something similar.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 10:27

Posted by: jo anne (33386) 

ET indeed, TerryW!

@GrimArtGroup (10th Dec):
Some selected artists from this year #TheGrimList2020

Theodore Major b. Wigan 1908–1999, ‘Man in Bleak Landscape’

The painting is on display in the latest The Fire Within exhibition - hopefully due to reopen soon. Link

Theo Major: A forgotten twentieth-century master
By Michael Howard -

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 10:29
Last edited by jo anne: 17th Dec 2020 at 10:30:46

Posted by: momac (11307) 

It does,and the more you enlarge the photo the more beautiful those trees and shrubs are..I'm trying to fathom if it's done in watercolours or oils, another toot on Google to find out if he ever used watercolours..somehow I doubt it.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 10:33

Posted by: jo anne (33386) 

Theo did use watercolours whilst at Wigan Art School, Momac, (they didn’t teach oil painting), but I don’t know beyond that.

Theodore Major in interview with Geoffrey Shryhane (1987).

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 11:03

Posted by: momac (11307) 

jo anne,I did look on google which said the he did sometimes use watercolours,but the only ones that are for sale are all going to watch the interview now.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 11:11

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (6581)

That painting by Bernard McMullen is awreet, I like it

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 12:36

Posted by: JR (191)

It's and interesting painting... and Momac, I can see why you originally thought he lived in a cottage; there is something very 'cottagey' about the scene.
Jo Anne, I saw the exhibition of some of his work in the Galleries and it brought back great memories. Also, I got even more out of the work than I did back then when I met him. I expect that I was overwhelmed with looking at hundreds of paintings at the time, whereas at the exhibition I was able to take my time and absorb each paining and every detail.
Peter Israel, I'm glad you enjoyed my description of that memorable day I had with him.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 15:46

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (6581)

They were the scribblings of mad man .................

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 15:49

Posted by: JR (191)

Tommy, I expect many may agree with you, but art is sometimes very deep and profound - not the pretty picturesque landscape that many people would rather look at or purchase.
I didn't really get expressionism, cubism, fauvism, etc. until it was explained to me; then it started to make sense.
I suppose it's like watching blockbuster films with the Hollywood formula and then watching a French 'film-noir' and not getting it.
But that's just my personal view - many other views are available!

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 16:08

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 

does anyone know who this is by

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 19:22
Last edited by peter israel: 17th Dec 2020 at 19:39:57

Posted by: momac (11307) 

It looks like a Harry Walder painting.or...Allan Owen

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 19:50
Last edited by momac: 17th Dec 2020 at 19:54:48

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 

momac i have three signed prints and can not remember who the artist is and cannot read his signature

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 20:37
Last edited by peter israel: 17th Dec 2020 at 20:38:38

Posted by: momac (11307) 

The best thing you can do is to find all Wigan artists on google and see if the signatures look anything like the one on yours..the signature on yours is very difficult to most artists sign their work by printing their name I think..good luck.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 20:47

Posted by: jo anne (33386) 

Here’s a close up though it’s not very clear. Haven’t you asked on here before about an artist's signature with a snail, Peter.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 20:50

Posted by: i-spy (14979) 

Ok i confess

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 20:56

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 

yes i asked you Jo anne

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 21:00

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 21:06

Posted by: jo anne (33386) 

I thought it was familiar, Peter.

It is difficult to decipher. Have you any idea when they were painted?

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 21:08
Last edited by jo anne: 17th Dec 2020 at 21:08:57

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 21:08

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 

jo anne nope

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 21:10

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 

looking at the garden furniture 90s

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 21:13

Posted by: jo anne (33386) 

William Gregory Ingham -

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 21:30

Posted by: momac (11307) 

By Jove,she's got it..good for you jo anne.

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 21:34

Posted by: jo anne (33386) 

It seems the artist is/was on LinkedIn - I’m not a member.

Wigan · Retired factory worker and now full time watercolour artist and instructor and demonstrator in watercolour landscapes /still life ...

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 21:43

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 

thank you

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 22:04

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 

now lets see if anybody on here knows him

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 22:08

Posted by: tonker (23046) 

Neeeeeeever heard of him!

Replied: 17th Dec 2020 at 22:15

Posted by: JR (191)

Peter, Jo Anne, et al... I have sent a request for William Gregory Ingham to link with me on Linkedin. If he accepts then I can ask him the questions. He is a watercolour artist and also an instructor/demonstrator in watercolour landscapes and still life. He is a member of the Landscape Painters listed group. If I get a reply I will update you all.

Replied: 18th Dec 2020 at 16:24

Posted by: peter israel (1039) 


Replied: 19th Dec 2020 at 22:32

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (6581)

Forget all this garbage, if yoo want to see a proper artists work, have a look at Laura Quinns work, she is a fantastic artist

She is from Haydock too, so oood a thowt

Replied: 19th Dec 2020 at 22:41

Posted by: momac (11307) 

That is unbelievable.

Replied: 19th Dec 2020 at 22:51

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (6581)

They look like they have been taken with a camera, but they are actually paintings

Replied: 19th Dec 2020 at 22:59

Posted by: tonker (23046) 

A bit like some photographs that look like paintings but are actually taken with a camera!

Replied: 19th Dec 2020 at 23:21

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (6581)

Do you mean that she paints from photographs which are sent to her, that maybe so, but it is only the same as a model posing, she is bloody brilliant

Replied: 19th Dec 2020 at 23:27

Posted by: JR (191)

She works from life and several photos too, which allows her to get the best outcome. She also works in a medium that is sort of between oil and acrylic. I know this as she's my daughter-in-law!

Replied: 20th Dec 2020 at 11:22

Posted by: momac (11307) 

JR,I work in oils and acrylics but they're nowhere near as good as that..she must be really proud of her work.

Replied: 20th Dec 2020 at 11:40

Posted by: tonker (23046) 

Tomplum's younger brother, their Boffy, is a bit of an artist and he also works in oils.

And No, stroker, I didn'tmean that !

Replied: 20th Dec 2020 at 11:55

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (6581)


I bet yoo are really proud of her

Replied: 20th Dec 2020 at 12:17

Posted by: JR (191)

She's done really well for herself. She got into the final of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the year a few years ago. She's now selling her work all over the world. But she calls herself a wildlife artist as that is her passion. She loves animals.

Replied: 20th Dec 2020 at 13:34

Posted by: jo anne (33386) 

I’ve been lucky enough to see some of Laura’s work on display in various local exhibitions, JR, and it is fantastic!

Laura’s 2014 portrait of Sir Ian McKellen is on display in the Museum of Wigan Life - Link

(Now downstairs)

This astounding self-portrait is exhibited in The Fire Within, Wigan Galleries - Link

An animal portrait at Wigan STEAM (Hope St) from back in Feb


Portraits for NHS Heroes -

If ever there’s an art exhibition in Wigan, Leigh, or further afield, I’d say pop along if you get the chance.

Replied: 20th Dec 2020 at 16:34
Last edited by jo anne: 20th Dec 2020 at 16:36:43

Posted by: JR (191)

Just a bit more information on Theodore Major. He only sold paintings to pay for his art materials and told anyone who bought them not to sell them on for profit. When I met him he told me of someone who bought and sold on... he was furious. He also told me of a painting he gave to a gallery and instructed them on the frame which should always be a thin white frame. They gave it a big fancy gilded frame... and he told them not to ask for another! I don't know if he put this in his will but he told me that when he died he didn't want his art to be sold, but he would donate everything free of charge to anyone who would build an art gallery (or a wing in an established gallery)to house his works. What an opportunity for Wigan Council... the visitors, the esteem, the associated souvenirs and income for our town.

Replied: 20th Dec 2020 at 17:50


Note: You must login to use this feature.

If you haven't registered, why not join now?. Registration is free.