1880 Teesdale Mercury article inspires artist Richard
A STORY from the Teesdale Mercury in 1880 has inspired a new piece of art which will be part of an exhibition at The Bowes Museum later this year.
The headline “Counter Charges of Assault at The Bowes Museum” caught the imagination of artist and tailor Richard Bliss, when he was carrying out research for a new commission for the Bowes Centre for Art, Craft and Design’s Untitled 10 project.
Mr Bliss explained: “One of the museum’s curators showed me the Teesdale Mercury article, which mentions Thomas Lee Scott, a joiner who worked at the museum.”
Thomas Lee Scott was born in Middleton-in-Teesdale in about 1852.
He was employed by John Kyle, who built the Bowes Museum. Scott had been working in the museum when a fight broke out between Joseph Kyle – the builder’s son – and Richard Akers, an old servant of John Bowes.
Scott broke up the fight, and was a key witness in the court case which followed. The case was reported in the Teesdale Mercury on December 1, 1880.
Mr Bliss, an artist tailor, is making Mr Scott’s Best Shirt as part of Untitled 10, a project that challenges artists and craftspeople to interpret The Bowes Museum through contemporary art.
“I wanted to celebrate Thomas and the other workers who built the museum,” said Mr Bliss.
“There are lots of clothes and objects that belonged to the wealthier people of the day, but the things that were owned or worn by working class people were overlooked by collectors such as John and Josephine Bowes.
“Mr Scott’s Best Shirt is an attempt to put that oversight right.”
He added: “I have been searching the archives at Durham County Record Office and in The Bowes Museum to try and find the names of the local craftspeople and labourers who built the museum.
“I have been told by experts that these names would be in the wages book of John Kyle, but sadly this treasure is not in either collection.”
Mr Bliss is now appealing to readers of the Teesdale Mercury to help him find out more about Thomas Scott, and the other workers who built the museum.
“It may be that readers have information about people who worked at the museum when it was being built between 1869, when Josephine Bowes laid the Foundation Stone, and its completion in 1892.
“Maybe someone even has Mr Kyle’s wages book.”
If any readers have information they can share with Mr Bliss they should email him at rbliss1@ gmail.com.
Untitled 10 #2019 will open at The Bowes Museum on October 11 and runs until February 28 next year.