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A Tribute To Harley Crossley

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Dear members and past members,  it is with sadness that I have to pass on the news that one of our Founder Members, Harley Crossley, died two days ago.  He had been ill for some time and died at home, aged 77 after some time in a hospice.  I only met him a couple of times but admired his work very much, and he was such a nice man.  He painted with oils, using a palette knife, working incredibly quickly;  I remember having an exhibition stand opposite his at a National Rally - think it was the first Beale Park one;  He would have his easel and paints out and would finish a painting in a morning - and probably sell it still wet that afternoon, then crack on with another one!  His work was very sought after, but painterly too and very subtle in his use of colour.  He often  brought alive historical scenes from old post-cards.  
Sarah Pressland
From Sheila Bury
I am very sad to hear Harley Crossley has passed away. I remember his wonderful paintings at those early exhibitions in the marquee at Stoke Bruerne. A very talented painter
 and a very nice person.

From Brian and Janet Collings
It seems a long time now since a few of us all sat around after one of the Stoke Bruerne Artists' Weekends and floated the idea of forming a Guild of Waterway Artists.  Harley was one of the regular exhibitors.  He was always conspicuous on those occasions by the groups of people standing around him or frequently returning to view progress as a new image grew before their eyes. Without doubt he was a wizard with a knife, and readily conveyed his thoughts on what he was producing to those watching him work.  He never failed to amaze me, anyway!
His other speciality as I recall was Ocean Liners, handled in the same way as his other paintings.

The Guild grew, new and different venues were attended and membership changed, bringing a greater diversity of art to a wider audience.  At most of the events where artists were invited, the familiar campervan would appear, Harley would "do his bit" and then be off elsewhere to gain more ideas or to attend another show. He will be remembered by many.

The waterways have changed  and  a lot of water has gone under  the bridge.  Since those early days that led to the forming of the Guild,  a lot of paint will have gone under Harley's knife. 
His legacy hangs on many a wall and in the minds of those who knew him .             

Brian and Janet
From Eric Gaskell
What sad news. Obviously I never knew him, but have just had a look at his work on a number of sites. Although his particular figurative style is not my cup of tea - what a wonderful technician, he really knew how to paint didn't he. Shame he as gone, but his hard work means we should try all the harder to keep, what he initiated, going.

From Helen Harding
I am so sorry to hear about Harley. He used to come to Braunston to exhibit regularly when I organised the exhibitions at the Stop House and he was an amazing painter. As Sarah has said he could whip up a painting in literally an hour or so and it would be masterly. He did one once for us of The Stop House and I watched as he did it. I believe it is still there hanging in the office. He was a lovely man and interesting to talk to but his paintings appealed around the world so it was natural he would move on from the Guild. We were lucky to have him as a founder.



From Louise Moore

Very sad news to hear of the passing of one of the Guilds founders. What a wonderful body of work he has us left to remember him by.



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  1. Susan

    How sad I am to read of Harley's death. I drove past his studio in Dorset recently and wondered if he was still there so thought I'd Google to find out. Am sad to read of his demise. What a truly superb artist he was and I am lucky enough to have 3 paintings by him including a large one of Nether Compton which has hung In myobing room for decades and is much admired by all. His 'trademark' was that sometimes he would disguise the date in trees which was so cleverly done that if he hadn't told me I would have been oblivious to it! I love that on my large picture. A truly great talent. He will never be forgotten. Sue Singleton. Dorset.

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  2. Tim Bowling

    So sad to hear that Harley Crossley has passed on. In 1974 my father walked past him whilst he was painting Mudeford Quay (near Christchurch, Dorset, UK), and was fascinated that the artist (Harley) was painting with a palette knife. My father asked Harley if the painting would be for sale and ended up buying it later that day when it was finished. It still hangs on the living room of my mother's house (incidentally the description that Jean Randall (earlier comment) gives of her painting also sounds like Mudeford in Dorset). I was myself given another painting by Harley of Mudeford on my 21st birthday some years ago. I had hoped one day to be able to afford to commission Harley to do another painting of Mudeford but sadly that was not to be.

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  3. Jean Randall

    In the '80's I found a painting by Harley in a thrift shop here in Marin County, California,it has charmed me (and others) over the years, hanging in my living room. Have always wondered where it was painted, a marsh, distant buildings and tips of masts, serene and lovely.

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  4. Monica Coleman

    Harley Crossley had a massive, God-given gift and thanks to his generous and inspirational encouragement, I owe my professional career (now retired) as a painter of the New Forest to him.

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  5. Bill Shearer

    How very sad to see/hear this news. I have a lovely large painting which he did of the old ocean liner Aquitania, and everyone who visits our home, always comments on it. His memory will never die, through his fantastic works. Bill.

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  6. Alastair & Peggy Harris

    Sorry to hear of Harley's passing, we have fond memories working with him and Barbara on P&O ships such as "Canberra Victoria & Oriana and his pictures still hang in our hall. By the way we were the dance teachers on board.

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  7. My wife and I knew Harley and his wife Barbara for a long time - they regularly came to stay with us. I have agreed with Barbara that we'll aim to have an exhibition here at Audlem Mill during 2014 of Harley's works, and we hope also to publish a book containing images of many of his canal paintings. If you know where suitable paintings are located, please ring us on 01270 811059. By the very nature of things, artists don't usually take customers' phone numbers when they sell a painting! Thank you.

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    i have an original oil by Harley crossly called top lock its a beautiful painting and wondered if a real fan of his would like to purchase it from me as i do admire him very much but prefer other genres in my view the painting has to be worth 1000 pounds and this is my. asking price anybody interested. please feel free to email me thanks x

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