ST MARK'S Church Hall in Ocker Hill Road, Tipton, will play host to a unique sale on Saturday 8th November, between 12 and 2pm.
The late, local artist, Harold Harris, was a prolific painter in his time, and his widow Pat, known to many still by her maiden name of Pat Arnett, has put up 27 of Harold's works for sale by tender or auction. All funds raised will go to St Mark's Church.
Wednesbury artist Fred Barnfield, a friend of the Harrises, said:
"Harold Harris was a well-known local character. All knew him as 'Harold the Gas Man'. All trusted and loved him during the war years. There wasn't a street in Tipton he didn't travel upon, on his bike, with his big bag of tools on the handlebars. Calling on houses to put things right with the gas and reassuring the people in such trying times.
"The kids loved him; he even played football and cricket with them in the street. Yet who was to know that Harold was also to become an accomplished artist against overwhelming misfortunes. He left late works that reveal him as an artist who developed and probed into the mystery of life and all its wonders.
"Harold was born on 15th September 1912, into a large family, at Ivy Dene, Bilston Road, in what was then Coseley and is now Tipton. He was educated at St Mark's School in Ocker Hill, and on leaving he began work at Tipton Gas works as a fitter. Here he had the misfortune to suffer a gas lighting accident and for lime to fall in one eye, severly damaging the cornea and preventing him from taking up a desired art scholarship at Dudley.
"Now employed by Tipton Gas Works, Harold acquired his City and Guilds and in 1938 began to find the time to pick up on his great love of art, by joining the evening art class at the Ryland Memorial School of Art in West Bromwich. It was here he met Patricia Arnett, before she went on to study at the renowned Slade School of Art in London and become a renowned artist and teacher, with murals in West Bromwich Library and stage scenery at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre among her works.
"The war came and Harold and Pat met up again in December 1949 and became more than friends, sketching and painting together. Then Harold had another accident, a fall from a gas tower. He injured his spine and gradually became paralyzed. He spent two years in hospital in a plaster bed before a successful operation.
"In 1955 Harold and Pat married, Harold going back to work and Pat continuing with her art career. At this time Harold's paintings started to become interesting and the couple began to have numerous joint exhibitions, including the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and at Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery. They also undertook artistic tours of Spain and Italy.
"In the early 70s Harold had a stroke, but the couple still enjoyed good times, and did plenty of worthwhile things together. After much suffering Harold died on May 31st 1982. An ideally happy man, much missed.
"A selection of 27 of Harold's paintings has been donated by Pat to St Mark's Church to be sold by tender or auction for the church's funds, and also as a remembrance of Harold. A really true Tiptonian."