Thursday 13 April 2023

Arthur Dooley 'The Horse' gallops away at Boldon


Arthur Dooley (1929-1994), bronze, 'The Horse', supported on a marble plinth, signed and dated 1989, number 11/15, with certificate, 38cm wide, 52cm high sold £1,000 12th April Auction

Arthur Dooley was born in 1929 in Liverpool, he had several careers before becoming a sculptor including a tug-boat worker, an apprentice welder in Cammell Laird’s ship yard, a boxer, and a janitor. His time in the army as a Piper in the Irish Guards, for over eight years, was crucial to his development as an artist. It was here that he became a devout Catholic and embraced Communism.

It is believed that he spent some time in military prison, where he began to make sculptures.  After he left the army in 1953, he continued to practice art. He attended classes at Toynbee Hall in London and also made use of discarded pieces of metal from the students of St. Martin’s School of Art where he worked as a cleaner. In 1961 he had his first solo exhibition at St. Martin’s, his population grew and in
1970 he was the subject of ITV’s This is Your Life.

He returned to Liverpool and set up a small studio in Woolton. To support himself financially he worked for the police as a park patroller. Later, he worked in the Dunlop Rubber factory in Speke. His first commission which was turned down by sculptor Henry Moore was Stations of the Cross in St. Mary’s Church, Leyland, Lancashire. Its success led to other commissions including the Speakers Platform (later demolished) for Liverpool Transport and General Workers, Resurrection, and Mother and Child for Christian Aid, amongst others.

Dooley married and had one son named Paul, he remained in Liverpool where he was still popular, however, his work became less fashionable by the 1980s, he suffered ill-health and financial strains which restricted his work. He died suddenly of a heart attack on 7th January in bed at Enid
Street, Dingle. He was 64-years-old.

Arthur Dooley was always a passionate advocator for the working-class people of Liverpool. He opened the Liverpool Academy of Arts in 1988 on Seel Street, for other artists in the city to practice and exhibit their work. Arthur once said, “Anyone has got eyes and hands and a sense of touch, which is why I will always say that anyone can be an artist.” After his death, the city of Liverpool mourned his
passing, with floods of obituaries paying tribute. Since 2015 there has been an official DooleyDay set on 17th January, to annually commemorate Dooley’s birthday, and celebrate his life and work.

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