Joseph Pighills signed print ‘Grove Hill Dyke’.
Joseph (Joe) Pighills, painter and printmaker, was born in Oxehope, near Keighley, where he lived for all of his life in the same row of cottages on the edge of the moor, although he did change home within the row from time to time!
A staunch chapel man, he worked as an engineering pattern maker until he took retirement at 63 because of stomach problems and began to paint seriously from the mid-1960s onwards. He had left school at 14, but always had a natural talent for art, which he developed at evening classes at the Keighley School of Art. His paintings proved popular with local people.
He held his first solo exhibition at Cliffe Castle in 1961 and was exhibited again at Bradford’s Lane Gallery in 1963. These shows brought his talent and work to wider public attention – and appreciation. His work was increasingly shown publicly thereafter, including at the Goosewell Gallery at Menston, and elsewhere. Bradford Museums and Galleries held a commemorative exhibition of his work in 1985.
The countryside around his Oxenhope home was the inspiration for much of his work and is characterised by landscape with a lowering or clearing sky. When asked by a journalist in 1974 why he never painted a clear blue sky, he said:
Look at today. Clouds is doing nothing. It’s mostly them times when it’s going to rain or it’s just given up raining ‘at you want to paint our theer. I paint off mi feelings and say summat about what’s going on – more about what’s going on nor about t’subject itself. When it’s really grand weather, what you might call fit for painting, you get out there and t’subject has flown.
Examples of his work are found in Leeds City Art Gallery, Cliffe Castle, Keighley, Cartwright Hall, Bradford, and at Sewerby Hall Museum and Gallery, near Bridlington.