McCartney Times

Arthur Dooley – by Bill Harry

Arthur Dooley – by Bill Harry

Arthur Dooley – by Bill Harry
March 29
12:55 2017

artist and sculptor arthur dooley 1929-1994 who has been voted number 35 in 100 greatest merseysiders.

Arthur Dooley
By Bill Harry.

Every now and then in life you come across a rare person. That seemed to be my fortune in Liverpool in the late Fifties. In 1958 at the Liverpool College of Art I’d got to know Stuart Sutcliffe. I’d made it my a direct intention to befriend him once rumours went around the college about his artwork and as soon as I saw his painting of a church, vivid, bursting with ripe colour in the Van Gogh style, I was sold.

For some reason, then and now, I was always attracted to talent, it was like a magnet.
Shortly afterwards I was sitting in the canteen at the college and noticed this odd figure strolling past. It was like an epiphany, I looked around at all the other students, conforming in the way they dressed, in duffle coats and turtle necked sweaters and realised that this person, with his d.a. hairstyle, and teddy boy coat, was different. He was the rebel and I made it my business to get to know him.

His name was John Lennon and I introduced him to Stu and Rod Murray at our local watering hole, Ye Cracke in Rice Street.

The third major talent I’d become friends with was another unusual, non-conformist. Tall, powerful, charismatic, with a talent verging on brilliance and genius, Arthur Dooley was a pleasure to be with.

One evening in Ye Cracke, after seeing beat poet Royston Ellis at the University, John, Stu, Rod and I went back to Ye Cracke for a drink. The conversation dwelt on Royston’s poems, they were very influenced by the American Beat poets in San Francisco. I felt that artists should express their own experience and environment, rather than someone else’s. Of course, there might be influences, but I felt that the creativity came from within. We discussed the Liverpool 8 area and the talented artists, writers, poets, musicians who lived there. This is as interesting a place as Greenwich Village we thought. It was creative people like Arthur Dooley who added something special to the area. Liverpool had great creative artists, we thought, and that moment we made a vow to make Liverpool famous, John with his music, Stu and Rod with their painting and me with my writing.

Arthur was one of those people who particularly intrigued John. A man after his own heart, one could say. Arthur didn’t care a damn about convention. He was his own man, he made his own friends, lived the way he wanted to and forged unique sculptures in his Slater Street studio.

The four of us were regulars at the Jacaranda, close to Arthur’s place and we often met Arthur in the Jac or had a drink with him at the Marlborough next door.

It was early in 1960 that I met Virginia at the Jacaranda and we have been together ever since. Virginia also liked Arthur and often the three of us would spend a lot of time chatting together, although over this distance of time I can’t remember the conversations, although his opinions on socialism were fascinating. He was a paid up member of the Communist Party – and he proudly showed us his membership card. He also read the Daily Worker. One hears about real working class heroes and Arthur was one of them. He was like a big bear, and often spent time discussing things with us, without wearing his dentures, which indicated that he was comfortable in his own body, someone you accepted for what he was.

We loved Arthur’s work and he knew it – so one day he presented us with a metal sculpture of a head he had just created. Sadly, we had stored it in Virginia’s parents house in Bowring Park Road and it was lost when they moved to Childwall.

Allan Williams had opened the Blue Angel Club in Seel Street and, as he had plans for it becoming a sophisticated night club he wouldn’t accept the Beatles, local musicians or me and Virginia as members. However, Arthur had been granted an exhibition of his work on the first floor of the club and he asked me and Virginia to help him out on setting it up, which resulted in us becoming acceptable members. We did have one slight problem. When everything had been displayed there was a gap in the corner of the room. Arthur asked us to come with him and we walked down the road until we came from a debris and he found a large beam of wood, which we helped him to carry back to the club. He fixed it to stand and whitewashed it before putting an extravagant price on it!

Beatles fans might be aware of him due to his statue of the Madonna and Beatles in Mathew Street.

Written by: Bill Harry ©2017. All rights reserved. No unauthorised copying or re-publishing of this material is allowed by law. Please contact the writer for re-print permission.
(Contributor, McCartney Times)

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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