Dave Pearson (1937 – 2008) was born in London. In his thirties he began teaching on the Foundation Arts Course at Manchester College of Art (later MMU). Dave was one of my tutors when I started at the college in 1966. He had a big influence on me, as an artist and in his inspirational approach to his work. When Dave died he left close to 20,000 pieces of work in his studio. This works out at something like one piece per day for the whole of his working life. Not quick throwaway work either; much of it is highly complex and large in scale. It was this obsessive and dedicated commitment to his work that influenced me throughout my career. That, as well as certain of his interests and a lack of concern for formal and overtly prestigious settings. There was a strong storytelling element in his work, and he was fascinated by folk art and culture.

Later I became an executor of his will. This ended up with me buying his old studio as a way of managing and protecting his legacy. The studio, at 54 Manchester Road Haslingden, was in danger of becoming a cross between a storeroom and mausoleum after his death. I much preferred that it continued to have a creative role, and I knew that Dave would have agreed. So I have developed it into a place where creative and community work continues.


In 2014 I helped Arry Nessa set up Apna Rossendale. After a couple of years, once we saw that the project was going to be successful, it occurred that it would be the perfect sister organisation for the Dave Pearson Studio. So Apna moved from their small shop in Haslingden and took over the downstairs gallery space. They also share an office on the top floor. It’s the perfect full circle, with Dave Pearson – who was such a major inspiration for Horse + Bamboo – now providing a sheltering space in his studio for Apna, which itself grew from a Horse + Bamboo project (Different Moons).

The Family Home

Gallery and shop

The studio in Haslingden can be visited by arrangement, and there’s a changing exhibition of work on display. Most of the work is for sale, and it can be seen at the studio. As well as providing a home for Apna Rossendale the studio has office and meeting facilities, and a small kitchen and garden area. For further information about Dave Pearson go to www.dspearson.org, or visit the on-line gallery/shop at www.dspearsonshop.co.uk


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Bob Frith founded Horse + Bamboo Theatre in 1978. He now manages the Dave Pearson Studio and is active in support of Apna Rossendale.

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