Fylde Gallery's A Right To Play exhibition marks the 65th anniversary of UNICEF

PUBLISHED: 21:54 23 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:26 20 February 2013

The painting had cracks and tears

The painting had cracks and tears

A painting missing for 40 years is the centrepiece of an exhibition which opens in Lytham this month, as Paul Mackenzie reports

Margaret Race feels a thrill of pride every time she steps into the Fylde Gallery. When it opened four years ago on the upper floor of the new Booths store in Lytham it marked the end of a campaign which spanned three generations of her family.

Margarets grandfather Alderman James Dawson, a former mayor and freeman of the borough, donated a number of paintings to the local authority and hoped for years that they would be displayed in a gallery.

One was even designed it was to be named in Alderman Dawsons honour and a plot was found near St Annes library. But it was never built and although some paintings were hung in the Town Hall, the majority were put in storage.

And when the council offices moved about 40 years ago, the paintings were transferred to a new home. All except one. The Drummer Boy, painted by Victorian artist Mark Langlois. The painting was donated to the collection in March 1946 but was left behind in the council move and was only re-discovered recently. It will be the centrepiece of an exhibition due to open in the Fylde Gallery this month.

Margaret, who now chairs the Friends of the Lytham St Annes Art Collection, said: It is wonderful that the painting has resurfaced. I will be so pleased to see it go on show.

The exhibition, called A Right To Play, will mark the 65th anniversary of Unicef, and will feature more than 20 child-focused paintings from the collection. Most of the paintings in the Lytham St Annes Art Collection were donated before the 1960s but in recent years works of art have started to be given once again. And Margaret added: It is no longer seen as a closed collection but one that is alive and thriving.

There was a time when people didnt know about this collection and that what I was fighting for for people to appreciate what we have here. I felt a tremendous sense of unfairness that people had donated their paintings for the public to see them and they were not being displayed.

To see them properly shown gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction. It is like a dream come true for me and Im sure my grandfather would be very pleased as well.

The Friends of the Lytham St Annes Art Collection raised 2000 for the Drummer Boy to be restored by expert conservators at Lancashire County Councils Museums Service.

Janice Porter and Phillip Bourne carried out the work at their headquarters near Preston city centre where, over the last 20 years they have worked on pieces by LS Lowry, JMW Turner, John Waterhouse, Ben Nicholson and George Romney.

Janice said: The Drummer Boy was very discoloured and had a few scratches and tears and general signs of age. We have secured the loose paint, removed the dirt and given it a new lining and hopefully it looks as good as new.

* A Right to Play will be staged at the Fylde Gallery on the upper floor of Lythams Booths store on Haven Road from December 13th to January 27th.

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