Celebrated Yorkshire painter who lived at New York's Chelsea Hotel for years to return for 2025 retrospective

In 1964 David Remfry loaded his van with all his paintings and headed from Hull to London – “knowing I was never going back”.

Over the past 50 years Remfry has made his name for his large-scale watercolours of dancers and his drawings and watercolours of neighbours and friends at the Hotel Chelsea in New York City.

Recently he visited Beverley Art Gallery where his work will feature in a retrospective exhibition at the gallery in 2025.

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Born in Worthing, Remfry moved to Hull as a child, later studying at Hull College of Art, from 1959 to 1964.

David Remfry in Beverley Art Gallery with his painting of the RonettesDavid Remfry in Beverley Art Gallery with his painting of the Ronettes
David Remfry in Beverley Art Gallery with his painting of the Ronettes

While college was influential, so too was the now demolished local nightclub, Locarno’s, where his affection for music, dance and dancers grew.

In 1963, while still in Hull, Remfry encountered The Ronettes – the girl band from New York City - performing on TV. He created hundreds of paintings of the stylish trio, one of which is now on show at Beverley Art Gallery – as a taster of things to come.

A distinguished career followed with exhibitions in the UK, Europe and USA, living at the Hotel Chelsea for two decades and painting colourful residents including Ethan Hawke and Quentin Crisp.

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In 2001 he was made an MBE and elected a member of the Royal Academy in 2006. He was also Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy Schools from 2016 to 2018.

Now back in the UK, Remfry, a figurative painter who works almost exclusively in watercolour, has coordinated this year’s Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition in London.

In 2025, he will return to East Yorkshire for his first ever retrospective exhibition at Beverley Art Gallery.

He has lasting memories of “wandering around Beverley with mam” and has always loved this beautiful town. The exhibition will be curated by Dr Gerardine Mulcahy-Parker, who said: “It will be a joy to see this internationally acclaimed artist return home to East Yorkshire!”