Old art school chums are drawn together

John Read, Pete Colbridge, and Tom Harland who have reunited to produce an exhibition of paintings and ceramics
John Read, Pete Colbridge, and Tom Harland who have reunited to produce an exhibition of paintings and ceramics
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WHEN two of his large paintings were hung three years ago in the foyer of the newly-opened cancer care centre at Castle Hill Hospital, Tom Harland would have never imagined how familiar he would become with its surroundings.

The painter, known for his eye-catching images of familiar East Yorkshire landmarks, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus earlier this year.

His treatment ended a few weeks ago and he is looking forward now to travelling and painting in the New Year.

His winter exhibition this year entitled Paintings, a Few Pots and Prints has seen a reunion with old art school chums John Read and Pete Colbridge, who met at the Regional College of Art and Crafts on Anlaby Road in Hull.

He and John played together in a band called the Riverbeats and were once support band for Pink Floyd.

Tom said: “We all met at art college and have remained friends since. John worked in Switzerland for many years and Pete taught and worked for various other people.

“We have all diversified but maintained our main interest in life and thought this would be a good idea. Pete’s work has a user-friendly appeal, very practical but also creative. John’s more sculptural and decorative, with a definite African flavour.”

Cancer, he says, has taken him on an “interesting, eye-opening journey”.

“When I went for the operation they said ‘you’ll like this room’ – it was full of my prints!”

He now wants to raise awareness of cancer of the oesophagus, whose early symptoms are relatively minor.

He thought it might have something to do with his exposure to dust in pastels – some pigments are carcinogenic but was told that was unlikely: “The surgeon who looked after me says it is quite rife in North Lincolnshire, Hull and East Yorkshire, for some reason.

“We want to make people more aware as it needs to be caught early.

“People should go to their doctor as soon as there’s something amiss.

“I had a strange kind of swallowing sensation – the only way I can describe it was feeling uncomfortable lower down in the food pipe.

“I had the usual endoscopy, but it came back as malignant.”

Despite his illness he has carried on painting, but finds work on the larger canvases taxing. But he has big plans for travel and research next year and can’t fault the treatment he has had.

He said: “I’ve been in good hands and I can’t emphasise that strongly enough.

“I don’t have a problem with the NHS – it has been very good in terms of commissioning me to do work for their establishments and looking after me – I just can’t sing their praises highly enough.”

The gallery at 15, Low Street, North Ferriby, is open tomorrow from 1pm to 5pm, on Thursday from 1pm to 5pm, and on Christmas Eve 10am to 1pm.