After 49 years of marriage, Derek and Anne Leyland are used to sharing.
So when retired vicar Derek was invited to put on an exhibition of his work it was only natural that he would turn to his wife for help – and the couple ended up staging their first joint exhibition.
Artist Derek and Anne, who is nifty with her needlework, packed Brabins Gallery in picturesque Chipping with their oil paintings and embroidered textiles.
And Anne even took her spinning wheel along to show off her skills.
Self-taught artist Derek, 80, took up oil painting 20 years ago after he retired from the ministry. He became so hooked on the pastime the walls in his house became crammed with his art and he realised that if he wanted to carry on with his hobby, he was going to have to take notice of his admirers and start selling some to make space.
After Derek retired from St Helen’s parish in Churchtown, near Garstang, the pair, who have three grown-up children and five grandchildren, have settled in Grimsargh, near Preston. Derek said: “I really only started painting after I retired – I was always very busy in the ministry.
“I’m self-taught but have been to art classes from time to time.
“I paint in oil, mainly still life and always in a very detailed manner, so it takes me a while. I paint in the garage.”
He enjoys painting for pleasure and never thought of either selling or exhibiting his work until he was asked to take part in an a exhibition at Brabins last year. When he was asked to stage his own this year, he didn’t think he would have enough to show, so he asked Anne to display some of her textile art and modern embroidered panels. Anne makes the panels with textures created by burning and moulding synthetic fibres. Then the panels are embellished with machine embroidery and beads.
Derek added: “It takes me a long time because I paint slowly and in such detail. I get quite attached to my work. I joined Lytham Arts Society and they have exhibitions three or four times a year and so I started to put stuff in from time to time.”
He never dreamt of selling until someone offered to buy his work and he admitted to being “shocked” but he prefers to keep the work for himself.
Anne is a retired primary school teacher and has always been interested in textiles but went back to college to renew her love of the art and improve her skills. She ended up taking a City and Guilds qualification and is a member of a local embroidery group who stage a couple of exhibitions a year.
The next is at Brabins in September and Anne said: “We use modern materials and have modernised spinning but a lot of people don’t realise about these sorts of crafts. It opens up people’s eyes. It is not just ordinary needlework. I still go on courses and we have workshops within the group but I enjoy doing this and it helps to keep the mind active.”
She recently became president of the Preston Branch of Whitelands College Guild.
At one time, the couple kept sheep in the field and Anne used the wool to make jumpers for the family – and often, when teaching art, she would take her spinning wheel into school and involve the pupils in spinning and weaving.
Sometimes she would gather plants and herbs with the children and make natural dyes to colour the wool. Derek and Anne will celebrate their golden wedding in April.