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Pavement Artists and their dogs!
I am often asked; how do you find out all this wonderful information on a forgotten art-form. so here’s a little insight:
Whilst researching, I often come across original press photos, most of which have very little detail on the subject matter. The identity and location of the artist is often a mystery, so it takes painstaking research to discover exactly who these people where. I started this blog with the intention of trying to put the flesh on the bones of these otherwise forgotten souls. It was not enough for me to just present you with a carousel of images from the past. Each one is of a person who lived, in a place and time. I wanted to know more about their lives; how did they live, and what motivated them to do what they did?
It’s been two years since I started this award nominated blog; back then I barely had enough material for two weeks of writing. I now have enough for several tombs of books on the subject, and people have even suggested that I publish a book based upon this blog!! A nice thought that hasn’t gone unnoticed!
The ancient Egyptians used to have a saying that “to speak the name of the dead was to make them live again”
Shortly after I started, I came across this photo of a pavement artist and his dog. It was an original press photo and the only information attached to it was “UNITED KINGDOM: Pavement Artist Drawing In London on April 1953 Photo by Keystone France, via Getty Images” and that was it. But what an intriguing photo, and what did it all mean?; so, I started researching the relationships between pavement artists and their dogs, and found out some wonderful stuff that I have since blogged about here. But I could find nothing more to be added to this photo.
So imagine my joy, this week, on the second anniversary of my research, I acquired this second press photo of the same artist, (a few years apart) it had a typed write-up stuck on the back, naming both the artist and the dog!!
It read: THE SILENT PARTNER - LONDON: There’s no artistic criticism intended as Freckles the pooch takes it easy above his master, John Newberry, who creates some pavement art in London. The dog and the artist have been familiar sights on the same Trafalgar Square pavement for the last ten years.
A once forgotten pavement artist (and his dog!) now have a name!
And that’s it, that’s my starting point; as soon as you discover a name and a context, it’s enough to start the research ball rolling.
Then the questions start: So John had been on the same pavement since 1948. I wonder whatever happened to John Newberry and Freckles. Perhaps that’s the subject for a future blog!
Research should always start with a question: Knowledge and discovery is a wonderful thing.
I sincerely hope you will continue to enjoy reading about my discoveries into the forgotten world and lives of the humble pavement artist.
Written and researched by Philip Battle