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Burslem School of Art in Focus: Jack Simcock, Arthur Berry & More

Fareeha Ahmad

As an auction house based in the heart of the Potteries in Stoke-on-Trent, we are proud to have 20th century art for sale from local artists, and continue to look for more. Read on for some details about the artists’ works we sell.

The Burslem School of Art: a place synonymous with northern art. (Credit:

The Burslem School of Art originated in 1853, later moving into the Wedgwood Institute in the 1860s and finally to a purpose-built building in 1905. In 1971, it was merged with two other art schools, Longton and Stoke, to form the North Staffordshire Polytechnic.

The school has been associated with a number of prominent local artists, who either studied or taught there, and so it has played an instrumental part in 20th Century art of the local area.

Arthur Berry

A playwright, poet, teacher and artist, Arthur Berry (1925-1994) was born in Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent. He studied and later taught at the Burslem School of Art, where he was employed as a lecturer in painting until 1985.

A great example of northern art, this mixed media piece by Arthur Berry, ‘A Street in Smallthorne 1977’, was sold by Trent Art for £1,950. (Credit:

His artistic work was inspired by many aspects relating to the area around his hometown, expressing a deep connection to the area and his working class roots. Berry’s mixed media paintings covered subjects such as urban and rural landscapes, portraits and still life, often imparting a murky and brooding feel through a desaturated palette.

Another Berry piece sold by Trent Art, for £1,800, entitled ‘The Vicar’. (Credit:

Others have compared Berry’s artwork with that of L. S. Lowry, both in choice of subject and style, and their work has been exhibited alongside each other.

Rob Pointon

Rob Pointon was born in 1982. Originally from Forsbrook, he lived for a time in Burslem and while he has produced work in locations throughout the UK and overseas, much still relates to the town and its surrounding locality.

We’ve featured plenty of 20th Century art for sale in our auctions: This oil on board by Rob Pointon, titled ‘Home Time’, sold in our July 2023 Fine Art auction, achieving a hammer price of £1,100.

Rob studied at The Royal Drawing School, London and at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Primarily an en plein air painter, his oil paintings of predominantly urban and industrial landscapes succeed in capturing the essence of a place – figures depicted within adeptly incorporate a sense of movement.

An example of Pointon’s work in the Stoke area, this oil painting ‘Bottle Kiln Dolby Potters Millers, Trent Mersey Canal’, was sold by the Barewall gallery in Burslem for £1,400. (Credit:

His work has been exhibited dozens of times, including at the Barewall gallery, Burslem.

Jack Simcock

Recently featured in our November Fine Art auction, Jack Simcock (1929-2012) enjoyed a successful career, his works having drawn the attention of the rich and famous.

Jack Simcock was a prominent feature in our recent November Fine Art auction: this oil on board landscape of farmhouse and trees, dated 1969, was hotly contested and achieved a hammer price of £3,500.

He developed a passion for art during his conscription to the army and, after demobilising in 1949, he enrolled in Burslem Art School.

A native of Biddulph, Simcock later moved to Mow Cop, developing a great affinity for the location and surrounding area. Venturing out almost exclusively in Winter and favouring the palette knife as his implement of choice, he produced oil paintings that encapsulated the mood of a bleak and lonely place, using subtle colours to great effect.

Also featured in our November Fine Art sale, Jack Simcock’s ‘Lady by Tree’, dated 1957, again attracted interest from multiple bidders, reaching a hammer price of £3,100.

Reginald George Haggar

A close friend of Simcock’s, Reginald George Haggar (1905-1988) was born in Ipswich, Suffolk and studied at Ipswich School of Art, as well as the Royal College of Art, London. An artist of both watercolours and ceramics, Haggar worked for 10 years as assistant designer and later art director at Mintons.

Northern art featured in our auctions has included a number of Reginald George Haggar pieces. Depicting the Robert Sherwin building in Hanley, this watercolour sold for £460 in our July 2021 Fine Art auction.

Following this, he turned to teaching, becoming employed as Master-in-Charge at Stoke School of Art, after which he held the same position at Burslem School of Art, until 1945.

Haggar then focused on freelance artistry, producing watercolours, as well as oil paintings and ink drawings. His landscapes depicted both the countryside, as well as areas around Stoke-on-Trent, often recording aspects of its industrial roots, chronicling the destruction and demolition through the 1960s and 70s.

Titled ‘The Cooperage in Lytton Street, Stoke 1969’, this Reginald George Haggar watercolour was sold for £795 by Barewall gallery. (Credit:

Do you have 20th Century art for sale?

We are always seeking examples of northern art to consign to our auctions. We hold free valuation days every Tuesday at our Silverdale saleroom, where our friendly team of experts can value your items and assist you in consigning them to auction. Use our online booking form here to book an appointment.

You can also email us at or call us on 01782 638100. Your items can even be valued via WhatsApp – simply send some clear images via the app to 07864 667940.