Sunday, 7 February 2010


This week Iain and I attended a memorial service for this lovely gentleman, Stephen Newell. Like so many services nowadays the event was very much a celebration of a life fully lived. Everyone in the Barony Hall at Strathclyde University had their memories of this man, a great enthusiast whatever project he was promoting but who Peter West said "If they wrote a book on tact and diplomacy, it would be rather small!"

We, indeed, have our stock of memories, one being of our visit to his and Gaye's island on the west coast. We arrived in Seol-na-Mara, rowed ashore in the dinghy, and were met by him on the beach. Off we set with him driving his golf-cart type vehicle bumping us over the grapefruit sized stones back along the beach to the farmhouse.

Presently, Iain and I had to pile into this Ronald Regan-esque vehicle and roar up the hillside to look at his dam. He needed an engineer's eye to inspect a weak bank. That done, we set off on our return journey, all downhill, at break-neck speed scattering sheep in every direction as we bumped over the lumps of bracken and into ditches and ruts. I was sitting in the front next to him with my feet up on the dashboard, hands on the roll-bars, shrieking my head off! "Eaghghghgh! Stephen! I'm going to fall out!" Of course, he just threw his head back and laughed uproariously. (Yes, you guessed it ... he was getting exactly the reaction he had hoped for!)

We miss him!

However, he was a grandpa to some lovely lads who were neighbours of ours for many years. Number 3 of 3 was my Little Philosopher Friend; we spent a lot of time together! They grow up but still, it's nice to be left with some chips of the old block!

What interested me however, as I sat with the order of service in my hand, was this wonderful, accurate portrait of Stephen. I felt (and not everyone agrees with me) that the artist caught the cheeky, cheery smile exactly. "Yes!" I thought, "That's him!" I pondered: how could an artist who probably did not know the man, achieve this 'essence' in a series of 2 hour sittings.? Who was the artist? There was no name nor acknowledgment given .... :-(

However, at the tea afterwards, I lamented this fact to Peter (who probably was in charge of the printing ... ooops!). One sees it so often in the music world and here it was in the world of art. "Ah, but the artist (and his wife) are with us today."

So I met the gentleman who painted the portrait and also his wife. His name is Barry Atherton and he painted the portrait 18 years ago. It still hangs in the University. On looking him up on Google I see both he and his wife are portrait painters in Glasgow. At the moment, the best way to find out about him is to go to her website called, Linda Atherton, Portrait Painter. She has painted her husband's portrait. It is, at present, the last portrait in the 4th row of her Recent Work.

So it was a most satisfying day giving us things still in our midst: memories, chips and talent!

1 comment:

Dawn in NL said...

It certainly seems like a wonderful painting from the reproduction. Seems like a nice way to be remembered (the picture and your blog post!)
All the best,