Rutherford attended Hyde Art School on a Saturday morning whilst still at school before moving on to the Manchester School of Art. It was here that he became a contemporary of Lowry and was taught by Walter Sickert who became his lifelong friend and mentor.
After art school, Rutherford spent some time in commercial art, late becoming a cartoonist for the Manchester Evening News and as an illustrator on Fleet Street, London. It was in London that Rutherford hosted the first live children’s art programme ‘Sketchbook’ which paved the way for later TV artists such as Tony Hart.
Rutherford returned to Nelson Street, Hyde in the late 1950’s and was elected President of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. Rutherford’s association with Walter Sickert was an important influence in his work with Sickert referring to Rutherford as his “intellectual heir and successor.”
There is no doubt that Rutherford was not only of the time of Lowry but also of similar importance. It is therefore a credit to Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council that in 2008, they created a large exhibition space above Hyde Library on Union Street to display a collection of Rutherford’s paintings and sketches. A further selection can also be found at The Portland Basin Museum, Ashton-Under-Lyne.
Whether you are an art lover or not – just as a Hydonian it really is worthwhile bobbing along and having a look at our town through the eyes of one of our most famous artistic sons.
Words by Trevor Leech