Portrait exhibition hopes to reunite paintings with the people featured in them

Portrait exhibition hopes to reunite paintings with the people featured in them

The family of artist Don Yarrington have curated an exhibition of their father’s work with a difference which is open to the public at West Studios, on the Chesterfield College campus, over the next few weeks. The exhibition of the local artist’s portraits isn’t designed to sell the late artist’s work, but rather to reunite the portraits with their sitters. Don created these portraits of art students when he was the Head of Fine Art and later Acting Principal of Chesterfield College of Art in the 1970s and 80s. 

Following their father’s death Don Yarrington’s family are keen that the portraits created by him are gifted back to those who sat for him in his art classes. Don’s family have asked Chesterfield College to help and the college is delighted to provide space for the exhibition just a few hundred metres away from where the portraits were first created several decades ago.

There are 27 portraits on display in the public exhibition in the college’s creative hub in West Studios on Sheffield Road.

Clare Yarrington, one of Don Yarrington’s daughters, who was also a part-time art student at the college and is now a practicing artist, told us more about the the creative process he followed. She said: “Dad painted because he loved to paint. He created these portraits in class as demonstrations for students as part of his teaching process. He could work incredibly quickly and would paint in between teaching his students, sometimes completing the works at home. While he worked at the art college he enjoyed painting a whole range of people, including students, members of teaching staff, and the college caretakers.”

Alison Yarrington, Don’s eldest daughter, was a foundation art student at the college and went on to study Fine Art and Art History at Reading University, completing her PhD at the University of Cambridge. She said of the exhibition of her father’s work: "Any work of art’s value is in what it means to the person who keeps it and enjoys it. I hope the paintings mean something special to the sitters who are in the paintings. It may bring back memories of being a student or being part of the college.”

“It was part of Dad to create something because he loved it. We want people to have the paintings they feature in because he would have loved that. It will be nice for us to think that they are going to people for whom they meant something and have some personal connection.”

The family of the artist are particularly keen to invite anyone to visit the exhibition who think they may have been a subject of one of his paintings.

The exhibition is open at the Sheffield Road gallery between 10am - 4pm Monday to Friday until Friday 16th July.


Back to news