Art exhibition remembers popular local man

A much-loved Bishop Auckland man who died suddenly earlier this year is living on through his artwork.

Michael Dolan was a well-known personality in the town due to his decades spent managing a number of different bars and pubs.

Many knew him from his days running Harvey’s Wine Bar in the 1980s and 1990s at a time when it was at the heart of the town’s Market Place.

However, fewer people were aware that Michael was also an extremely talented artist who had studied at Darlington Art College and continued working on his passion whenever he could find the time.

Following his death in April this year after a short illness, Michael’s sister Kathryn decided his artwork should be put on display and organised an exhibition at Bishop Auckland Town Hall.

“I felt like this was something I needed to do, I wanted people to see the great work he had done and I feel like he would have been very pleased about it,” she said.

“Just before he died he got going with his art again but he never really pushed himself enough and I wish I’d helped promote him a bit more at the time.”

The exhibition includes various compositions, from oil paintings to pencil drawings, with some prints of the artwork available to buy.

A book for comments has also been left at the venue, which is already filling with messages from visitors.

“I’ve been down quite a few times and it’s so nice to read the lovely things people have said about Michael – it really does help,” added Kathryn.

“We know now how much people thought of him – his funeral was absolutely packed and there were so many there that people had to stand outside. There was even a group of Mods on their scooters!”

Michael would have turned 60 on November 21 and his family are planning to mark the occasion with a get together at the Green Tree pub in Bishop Auckland.

“Losing Michael so suddenly has obviously been very hard but this exhibition is a great legacy for him and his children,” Kathryn said.

“Lots of people have told me they didn’t realise what he could do until now and to know we have shown off his rather hidden talents has certainly been worthwhile.”

The exhibition, which is free to visit, runs until Friday, 22nd December.

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