Making the most of his memories of all things French, a Spofforth-based artist is gearing up to the Tour de France with some original artwork and cartoons.
Peter Hesketh, who is a regular feature of the Wetherby cafe scene where he draws the people around him, first began his love affair with France when he met a young woman called Marie Louise Guilland while studying at the Harrogate Art School on a government grant of £4.50 a week.
The pair were then married for 58 years and regularly visited the country to see Marie Louise’s family, and Peter has now branched out from his usual artistic sketches and paintings with a series dedicated to the Tour de France.
His love for all things French never left him, even when Marie Louise died, and Peter remembers fondly the country of his wife’s birth.
“She was working for the Resistance and she was sensational,” he said.
I had never met a woman like her. She used to encrypt the messages being sent over the BBC to France. They made no sense of course because they were all in code.
“I recall presenting myself to her father, Papa Guilland, and I had to give an account of myself as I was courting his daughter. I remember he asked what prospects I had. He wasn’t very impressed, but the rest is history.”
Peter’s cartoons, of a dog and his French girlfriend, are drawn from his own life and incorporate the training he had at the art school where he focused on life drawing after a year of drawing sculpture.
He said: “You could only go into the life class where the nudes were after that year, then you were allowed into the life art room. All the girls used to focus on the new guy to see how he reacted to the model.
“The art school training was good. It was very thorough. Portraiture was the thing and from the accuracy of a portrait I get to a cartoon.
“This art business has been with me as long as I can remember. I started when I was about five. I was always drawing and never stopped, though it’s a very random approach to art at five.
“You can teach art, it is quite simple really because what you are doing is a technical passing on, but you can’t teach imagination.”
Peter, who has had several jobs selling art and kept his own studio in Bradford for six years, is now looking forward to the event itself.
l See pages 40-42 for the Wetherby News coverage of the Tour de France as the district prepares for the great sporting event, now less than a month away. Go to www.wetherbynews.co.uk for previous articles.