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Hartlepool artist is going back to his roots

Ascent by West Hartlepool-born Basil Beattie, who taught many of today's prominent artists.
Ascent by West Hartlepool-born Basil Beattie, who taught many of today's prominent artists.

One of Britain’s most respected painters, who was born in Hartlepool, is to return to his roots with a new exhibition at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima).

Although less recognised by the public, West Hartlepool-born Basil Beattie is well known among artists, and taught many of today’s prominent names during his three decades tenure at Goldsmiths, University of London.

This new exhibition is a retrospective of his work since the 1980s, and encapsulates much of the 81-year-old’s distinguished career.

When Now Becomes Then: Three Decades opened at the weekend and runs until Sunday, June 12.

The artist said of his work: “The works speak of human qualities of being - emotional and psychological.

“Signs and metaphors play a part in them, but it is the way the images are formed that is crucial in bringing them to a visual point of memorable potency.

“I’m looking forward to the show in terms of learning more about what I’ve been doing. If it gives any value to anybody it will be value to me.”

Director Alistair Hudson said: “We are committed to presenting a range of diverse practices in contemporary art and what better example of this is there than an artist who started in our region.

“Beattie’s works are not only illustrative of a prominent career; they are truly influential to the new generations of British artists, many of whom were his students.”

Beattie attended the West Hartlepool College of Art from 1950 to 1955 before forming part of a group of British artists whose practice was informed by abstract expressionism, a movement that flourished in the United States during the late 1940s and 1950s.

He went on to have a long teaching career from the 1960s to 1990s, most notably at Goldsmiths, University of London, before retiring in 1998.

His works have been exhibited both nationally and internationally and are part of various public and private collections, including the Tate, the Arts Council, Saatchi and Jerwood.