Renowned Bridlington sculptor's incredible collection to go under the hammer this week in Scarborough

Bridlington sculptor’s remarkable bequest to Marie Curie will be sold at a Scarborough auction this week to raise funds for the hospice charity.
Auctioneer Will Duggleby with a large Skelton wall sculpture.Auctioneer Will Duggleby with a large Skelton wall sculpture.
Auctioneer Will Duggleby with a large Skelton wall sculpture.

Helen Skelton (1933-2023) left the charity 55 abstract wooden sculptures, ranging in size from tabletop to almost six feet high.

Faced with one of the more unusual donations the charity has received, officers of the organisation’s legacy team enlisted the help of auctioneers David Duggleby to advise on how best to sell the works of art for the benefit of the charity’s work.

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Managing Director Will Duggleby said: “Helen Skelton’s story is both surprising and inspiring. Whilst she painted and drew throughout her life she was almost fifty when she turned her hand to sculpture in the early 1980s.”

A trio of abstract cats, made by Helen Skelton.A trio of abstract cats, made by Helen Skelton.
A trio of abstract cats, made by Helen Skelton.

“Her first solo exhibition was at Sewerby Hall in 1998 and another memorable local success followed when she won the sculpture prize in the Ferens Gallery Open Exhibition of June 2000. Her piece ‘Mother & Child’, inspired by the birth of her first grandchild, sold during the exhibition.”

“Helen described her depictions of people, animals and wildlife as ‘abstract based on reality’.

“In a BBC radio interview she revealed that she drew inspiration from the wood that she saw when walking in the East Yorkshire countryside and said that she was guided in her

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designs by the shape and appearance of the wood with which she was working.

“The sale of the Skelton Bequest has attracted considerable interest ahead of the auction. It is hardly surprising given that this is the largest collection of Helen’s work to be seen at one time since the Sewerby Hall exhibition a quarter of a century ago and it does include many favourite pieces that she kept for her studio and home.

“We’re clearly delighted to be involved in aiding such a worthy cause and we’re hopeful that the sale will raise well into four figures for Marie Curie.”

The 55 sculptures, gifted to the charity following Helen’s death last year, are to be sold in 20 lots in the Decorative, Antiques & Collectors Sale.

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The sale will take place on Friday, March 5, at the Vine Street Salerooms in Scarborough.

The 296-lot auction also includes a small collection of original press photographs featuring sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, plus several Royal Christmas cards

signed ‘Charles’ – and a Great Train Robbery ‘wanted’ poster.

The full catalogue is available on the David Duggleby website.

Viewing will take place at the Vine Street Salerooms all week, including Friday morning from 9am until the start of the auction at 11am.