Models who posed for paintings by former Chesterfield Art College acting principal are reunited with portraits after nearly 50 years

Portraits painted by the former head of art at a Chesterfield college have been reunited with their models.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 5:09 pm
Vicky Johnson with her portrait which was painted by Don Yarrington.
Vicky Johnson with her portrait which was painted by Don Yarrington.

The paintings in an exhibition at the town’s West Studios until July 16 are the work of Don Yarrington, who became acting principal at Chesterfield College of Art.

Don’s family curated the exhibition after his death to reunite the paintings with the people who posed as models for their father.

A former evening class student is delighted to see her portrait after nearly half a century. Another portrait will be sent to France to be reunited with the volunteer model featured in it.

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Vicky Johnson, who lives in Duckmanton, was surprised to find out the portrait of her existed and that Don’s family wanted her to have it. She said: “I was astonished but also extremely pleased when I found out the portrait existed and I was going to be able to keep it. It has been a difficult time recently for lots of reasons and this was a really lovely surprise. I have rearranged some furniture in my house so it can go up on the wall. It was such a nice thing to have happened and it has definitely made my day, and my year actually.

“I attended an evening class and Don asked me to sit for him. He gave me the portrait he created in pastel during the class but he must have retained this image in his mind to create the painting. I was always amazed at how quickly he worked. I haven’t carried on with my art but this might inspire me to start painting again.”

Another painting in the exhibition will also be sent to one model who now lives in France, when the exhibition closes. A former art history teacher at the college, William Rawcliffe, visited the exhibition and recognised his son in one of the portraits. He said: “Don was a very good draughtsman and a very good painter because of the way he was trained. He was always short of models for his classes so my son, Paul, offered to sit for him. I think the painting he created of him was part of a demonstration he was giving to his portrait class. When I told Paul I had seen the painting in the exhibition he was thrilled and quite intrigued by it. He lives in France so couldn’t come over to see it but I have promised to send it on to him when the exhibition is finished.”

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 Don Yarrington’s paintings.

The exhibition at West Studios on Sheffield Road is open between 10am – 4pm until Friday, July 16.

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