The Frank Bentley Story

Frank Bentley sadly died on February 6th 2006, it was an unexpected death just one day before his 65th birthday. This is his story.

Born 7th February 1941 in Halifax, Frank had a loving and caring Mother and a wayward Father who drank and gambled and left the family home when Frank was 12. He grew up in a working class environment in a predominantly female household, with his Mother and younger sister Joyce.

Joyce has early memories of the “arty” side of Frank. He had started to write a book but this manuscript was never completed and was later destroyed. Poems that he wrote later in life were published in three anthologies and show Frank to have a rather deep and mournful out look and perhaps insight into his own death. The earliest art work we have on record is from 1959 when Frank was 18 and appears to be a self-portrait. Joyce remembers that he liked to sketch a lot some of which survive today.

Frank won a watercolour competition at the local cinema with a painting of the family cat, (the cat was to become a recurring theme). However despite these leanings Frank decided he better get a proper job and took an apprenticeship as an electrician. He married early and briefly. He then met Diana the lady with whom he shared many years of his life and who is the Mother of his only child Peter Bentley.

So here we have Frank in his thirties and still not having shown any serious signs of his desire to become an artist. What we do know is that he found it very difficult to settle down to a normal way of life. He had very strong old-fashioned moral values and was a rather solitary figure. He was not to find his calling for several years yet. Frank by now had long hair, and was quite a character. His dress sense had become more bohemian, he never wore shirts always jumpers, big and layered.

He drifted into the antiques and bric a brac trade having several shops. The shop was called Emily’s and we have since uncovered some early art works by Frank but signed Emily which he may have tried to sell in the shop, he subsequently became unemployed preferring to be a “househusband “and to bring up his son.

He drifted back into painting and has said in the past “to satisfy an emotional and creative need” Franks work is in acrylic and mixed media, which gives it a matt finish like chalk. He painted from his imagination only, often closing his eyes to rough sketch the outline image on the surface that he could see through his minds eye. The style is pure British naïve painting, retaining a child like quality but the colours and shapes reflect the creative instincts of a mature mind. He became a full time artist at the age of 41.

Early works, the hills and dales series, show him to have a penchant for the dark and gloomy landscape. They are slightly uncomfortable to behold having a nightmarish realism. A storm approaching, a great swaggering mountain, gloomy dark shadows and hillside cottages cowering next to huge slabs of black rock. They are fantastical with any humans appearing as pale, ghostly wan figures worthy of Munch. These works have a distinct quality and are forbidding and entrancing all at once. In April 1984 Frank had a solo exhibition of these works in Calderdale, he had been painting professionally for two years.

What followed was just a gradual process, Frank discovered at last what made him tick. He was happy in his Greenside studio painting and developing his own very distinctive style. He lived a classic bohemian life style, alternating between running and keeping very fit and heavy bouts of drinking. He entered his art into open exhibitions both in Leeds Art Gallery, Manchester and Hull Ferens Art Galleries where his art works were always accepted and often sold. He had shows in the Lowry in Manchester regularly and gradually he became noticed by other gallery owners leading onto work being exhibited all over England. Frank’s work found fame also in America where there is a strong naïve movement.

It was indeed at the Ferens Winter Open Exhibition that Frank first came to the notice of Steve Eccles. A passionate lover of art from an early age, Steve immediately felt an affinity with Frank’s work. He was not to know how much a part of our lives Frank would become.

20 years after this first sighting of Frank’s art, Bohemia Galleries is about to stage a major retrospective in honour of Frank. First planned over two years ago when Frank had a very successful solo exhibition at Bohemia Galleries Beverley, it is the family’s wish that the show goes ahead. Throughout the exhibition most work will be available to purchase, previously unseen paintings spanning 25 years of Frank’s career. It will be a once and for all opportunity to see the evolution of one great and highly treasured artist’s life achievement.

The exhibition in the York Gallery 7, Gillygate and run from Friday 23rd March through to 15th April. Catalogue available.

Frank, Kate & Sheana

 

 

Frank Bentley

FBN001

Original

Beggers End Lighthouse

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 24" x 24"

SOLD

 

 

Frank Bentley

FBN002

Original

Poppelton Port

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 24" x 24"

SOLD

 

Frank Bentley

FBN003

Original

Untitlrd

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 24" x 24"

SOLD

 

Frank Bentley

FBN004

Original

Untitled

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 24" x 24"

SOLD

 

Frank Bentley

FBN005

Untitled

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 19.5x 24"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN006

The Haunting of Reaps ?

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 19.5x 24"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN007

Untitled

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 15.5" x 20"

SOLD

 

 

Frank Bentley

FBN008

Emily's World

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 8.5" x 11.5"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN009

Through The Window

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 10" x 12"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0010

Untitled

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 12" x 16.5"

 

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0011

The Dream

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 8.5" x 11.5"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0012

Untitled

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 10" x 12"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0013

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 18" x 22"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0014

Water Front

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 11.5" x 15.5"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0015

Harbour Scene

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 11.5" x 15.5"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0016

Sailing Past Spittle Point Lighthouse

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 17" x 22"

SOLD

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0017

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 15" x 20"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0018

Nutclough

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 10" x 12"

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0019

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 12" x 17"

SOLD

 

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0020

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 12" x 12"

SOLD

 

 

Frank Bentley

FBN0021

North Sea

Original

Acrylic on Board

Image Size: 24" x 24"

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