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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.99

Brian’s gilt-edged brushwork adds lustre to commissions both sacred and temporal

Brian the Brush pic1Pretty much all of us will have passed by commercial properties or visited premises with exquisite signage and wondered at the craftsmanship involved in their creation. In particular, if the work involved gilding the artistry is all the more admirable.

What most of us will not know is that the same artistry involved in the representation of those treasured local names is to be seen in the restoration projects of some of our historic buildings. Those of us who live in the North of England will be particularly familiar with the work of Brian the Brush Ltd – a traditional hand-painting signwriting company based in Yorkshire and Cheshire, but which also serves the whole of the UK.

The firm is named after its eponymous founder. Brian himself has been in the signwriting business for over four decades, during which time he has expanded his expertise to include the gilding of artefacts both religious and secular: from the coats of arms of companies with Royal Appointments to architectural gems and historic palaces, including the Tower of London.

Brian the Brush pic2

Brian’s story echoes the story of the classic craftsman. After spending his teenage years at art college his career took him straight on to undertake a long apprenticeship in the art of traditional signwriting and gold leaf gilding. During his time as an apprentice in Bradford, West Yorkshire, he was privileged to work alongside – and learn from – highly-skilled artisans in all the crafts associated with signwriting and gilding, including reverse glass gilding and architectural gilding. They taught him well!

Brian the Brush’s business (for that is the nickname he had acquired) rapidly grew and he gained an excellent reputation in his field, initially concentrating just on the Yorkshire area but eventually gaining a nationwide reputation as one of the country’s finest traditional signwriters and gold leaf gilders.

Brian is proud to be a true artisan of the ‘old school’ traditional skills and values associated with hand signwriting and gold leaf gilding. He is a genuine, time-served, traditional signwriter and gilder, and also something of an original and one-off himself.

Brian the Brush pic3

Among the many projects Brian is proud to showcase is the gilding of the altar pieces and Christ figure at St Patrick’s RC Church in Durham. Having impressed with previous work at the church, Brian the Brush Ltd were favoured with the additional gilding work at St Patrick’s.

The project (pictured) included the gilding of decorative wooden fretwork panels that are positioned behind the altar. They were originally plain wood, but the addition of the gold leaf creatively enhanced the panels, making a spectacular focal point of the altar.

Restoration work also included the gold leaf gilding of the entire statue of Christ and other areas of the cross, the re-painting and varnishing of the cross and sections at each end of the cross.

Brian the Brush Ltd is a family-run business led by a man with outstanding artistic ability and a team packed with enthusiasm for the art of traditional signage and gilding. No project is viewed as too big, small, or difficult.

• Visit www.brianthebrushuk.com to browse their portfolio, which shows off just some of the wide range and diversity of the team’s artistic skills.