Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Harry Rutherford


For a little northern town, vitamin
Hyde continues to produce a great deal of creative talent. Harry Rutherford for example, is one of the North’s most renowned artists who lived and worked in Hyde for most of his life.

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.

There is no doubt that Rutherford was not only of the time of Lowry but also of similar importance.

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.

Sickert referred to Rutherford as his intellectual heir and successor.

But whilst commercial art and TV paid the bills, Harry Rutherford was first and foremost a painter with a passion for northern people and northern landscapes, as can be seen on two of his most famous works: Northern Saturday and Mill Girls.

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

Main shot above; Northern Saturday (Hyde market)
Small shot above; Mill Girls
Copyright: Manchester Museums and Galleries