NORTH Yorkshire artist Ian Burke has an exhibition of paintings and woodblock prints entitled Watch With Mother this weekend as part of Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage.

The work celebrates his childhood on Teesside in the 1960s.

The artist grew up in Redcar, and the pictures are populated with his relatives, many of them local characters, viewed through the eyes of a child.

Real human figures are represented alongside fictional characters that loomed large in his infancy, such as Muffin the Mule, Andy Pandy, the Lone Ranger and Ray Harryhausen’s skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a real from a fictional character.

Puppets featured highly in children’s television in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s and became the stuff of Burke's dreams and nightmares.

"This is not a sentimental exhibition, the past seen through the rose-coloured lens of time," he said. "These are real images from the archive of my mind presented as I still see them – strange, scary, misunderstood and truly surreal."

Watch with Mother is open at the Sunday School, Wesleyan Chapel, Staithes, tomorrow and on Sunday. At other times admission is by appointment until Sunday, October 6.

The artist tutors a workshop, Drawing Portraits from Archive Photography, at 2pm tomorrow and 11am on Sunday; to book a place, contact 01947 841840, 07972 012464, or

Next month, Swan Song at the same gallery will celebrate Mr Burke's 16 years as master of the drawing schools at Eton College as he approaches retirement.

One of his duties has been to supervise the school's artist-in-residence scheme which gives students and staff the opportunity to observe and work alongside professional British artists. Many of these artists have influenced his own painting and printmaking and examples of their work will also be on show.

They include Sarah Armstrong Jones, Norman Ackroyd, Hughie O’Donoghue, Anne Desmet, Eileen Cooper, June Carey, Paul Furneaux, Pine Feroda, Merlyn Chesterman, Jim Westergard, Katherine Jones, H J Jackson, Ian Phillips, Julia Manning, Judith Westcott, Hilary Paynter, Niamh Clancey, Ade Adesina and David Mach, the sculptor who created Darlington's Brick Train.

Swan Song opens on Saturday, October 21, and runs until Saturday, November 4.