AN artist who used Bridlington and its coastline as the inspiration for many of his best works has been honoured with a plaque to commemorate his life and work.
Due to the hard work of retired hotelier Brenda Dismore, nearly 20 years after his death, Walter Goodin’s name will be displayed at Bridlington Harbour, which the artist found endlessly enthralling.
With the agreement of Bridlington Harbour Commissioners, the plaque was unveiled on Tuesday close to the spot where Goodin would often sit at his easel.
In gold lettering on a dark blue background, it reads simply: “Around Bridlington harbour Walter Goodin, 1907-1992, created his best works of art.”
Mrs Dismore, who got to know the artist and bought several of his paintings, said visitors to the site would be able to see the same view he did, but felt the recognition was long overdue.
“He came to Bridlington in the 1950s but he was such an unassuming man he never went seeking publicity. He was easy to talk to but very shy,” said Mrs Dismore.
“He always said ‘I don’t know who would want to buy one of my paintings’. As a man he wasn’t recognised but he was an artist of such eminence.
“I think had he wanted to become famous he could well have done, but he turned down becoming a member of the Royal Academy.
“It’s terrible it’s taken all this time, I do think it’s a shame.
“I hope that holidaymakers and residents will notice the tribute to his life and allow them to seek out his work and enjoy it.
“Some of his works are on view at Sewerby Hall and I am sure anyone lucky enough to view them will be as impressed as I have been.”
Mrs Dismore, 81, a former Mayor of the Borough of North Wolds, first noticed Goodin in the 1960s when he featured in a painting by his mentor Fred Elwell, another great East Yorkshire artist. She got an insight into the simple life Goodin shared with his wife Violet when she became a regular visitor to their first-floor flat in Turmer Avenue.
She said: “There are photographs of him wearing a tea cosy on his head because it was so cold in his draughty sitting room. It was a very frugal existence.
“He would sit there with his mittens on but he always made you very welcome. Vi was the businesswoman; she used to say ‘Is it all right? Fifty pounds’.”
Goodin appeared to have no idea of the commercial value of his work, but went to extraordinary lengths to get the picture he wanted.
Mrs Dismore said: “He had a mirror and used to look at the painting in the mirror to see if he could pick up any flaws; he was very meticulous. He used to put it upside down for the same reason.
“He said the pleasure was in the painting; I think he would have been quite happy never to sell one.”
Always seeking perfection, Goodin was still searching for “one real painting” until his death.
He was a master of painting skies, landscapes, industrial scenes and portraits, yet he was always drawn back to Bridlington harbour.
“He nearly always had one halfpainted picture of the harbour on the go,” Mrs Dismore said.
“He could paint anything but he just loved the harbour.”
One of his harbour paintings captured a small cabin boat on its way to take part in the wartime evacuation from Dunkirk.
His desire for solitude while he was working led to earlier visits to the water’s edge, and he would often be found sitting in his place at 6am, a slight figure in glasses and a velour hat, hunched over his easel.
Mrs Dismore said: “He used to go earlier and earlier because it was so busy people used to jostle him.”
The first picture she bought from him was The Market Place in the 1960s, which cost £14.
Others followed including one of her house in Bridlington’s Old Town, and some commissioned paintings.
Christopher Wright, harbour master and chief executive of the Harbour Commissioners, said: “A lot of his paintings were around here and it is most fitting that this plaque goes up. We are pleased to be able to help.”
Goodin’s paintings remain highly collectable and regularly come up for sale at auctions, usually fetching between £750 and £3000 depending on their size and theme.
Spencer’s Auction Rooms, on Olivers Lane in Bridlington, had three Goodin paintings in their antiques sale last week and sell around 20 of his paintings a year.