Storying Sheffield



Maggie chose to base her story around two paintings, her father’s and her own. These two oil paintings took centre stage of her display. Maggie linked her father’s story to her own life story. Her father was called up for the First World War when he was seventeen, and Maggie still has artefacts such as photos of her father as a teenager and war memorabilia.

She also displayed her course journal which includes paintings and poems.

For audio, click here.

This is the story of two lives; two paintings 

My father was born in 1898 — Frederick James Pickard the son of a wood carver — and grandson of the proprietor of a Music Hall and a Theatre. For some unknown reason at the age of 13 he was apprenticed as a Mark Maker. Just before his seventeenth birthday in 1916 he was enlisted in the 5th West York’s Battalion of The King’s Own Yorkshire Infantry.

He never spoke of what happened to him in France but taught us to sing the old marching songs set to hymn tunes when we were in the air raid shelters in 1940. He contracted pneumonia whilst in the trenches and on his return home in 1919 he spent a great deal of time recovering from the many operations he had to drain pus from his lungs – eventually having most of his left lung removed. When he finally married my mother in 1932 he sang her the song that had haunted him in the trenches as he dreamt of home – “Roses are shining in Picardy”. My sister and I were born in 1935.

During convalescence he painted – he discovered that his heart and talent lay not in the steel works but in an art studio; but in order to earn a living he had to return to his former job. He dreamt of the time when would he retire and would be able to paint again. He died a few months after he retired at 65 not having completed his dream.

His story haunts me – I am reminded how I longed to go to Art School in 1946 when I passed the Scholarship exam but was sent to a Grammar School, – “You will never earn a good wage from painting” said my mother. I had to leave school and go to work after I passed my O level exams because my parents did not have the money that was needed to allow me to stay on in the 6th Form. I have done several jobs but always longed to paint or do something that was creative. Now I am seventy five I regret that I did not take up painting sooner rather than working in a hospital laboratory, being an art teacher and a road safety officer. After training In 1987 I was ordained as a minister in the United Reformed Church – now, since retiring, I frequently lead worship in many churches in Sheffield and Chesterfield. This is my dream job but my dream past- times are the painting and writing that I took up several years ago and find totally absorbing and very therapeutic. To be creative needs passion and commitment; one can never expect to lead a well ordered life. Creativity is a form of madness.

I place my father’s picture at the side of mine — I think of him and am very glad that he survived and I hope that he would be as proud of me as I am of him.

Two pages from Maggie’s journal (click on the image to enlarge it):

Maggie’s personal timeline (click on the image to enlarge it):

Maggie’s map of Wadsley (click on the image to enlarge it):