Eric Tucker, a humble genius
by Nicole Stephenson
Maybe the price an artist must pay for being so extraordinarily talented is the curse of only becoming famous after death. The late Eric Tucker has followed suit with this infamous hex, but upon researching more about Tucker, this seems to be for him, more of a blessing.
A true old school working class northerner and life-long socialist, Eric was born and bred in Warrington. Living in the same end terrace house for the majority of this life, unmarried and with no children. He was very traditional in his pursuits, refusing to even own a bank account. He was never educated in art and carried out manual labour most of his life, he would however visit art galleries as a hobby and appreciated the work of other realists.
His family were well aware he was an artist and knew of his talent but it wasn’t until he passed in the summer of 2018, that they realised the substantial amount of exquisite work he had created. Maybe it was his own blasé attitude towards his art which detracted his family from recognising his potential sooner.
Tucker painted the world around him at eyelevel and in plain sight, significantly, in times gone by. Capturing the grit of working men’s clubs and the mundanity of people going about their day on our northern cobbled streets of yesteryear. He painted people often clouded in smoke and with a drink to hand, nonchalantly chatting. Representing a bygone era of simple pleasures before the world became more complex.
“HE WAS NEVER EDUCATED IN ART AND CARRIED OUT MANUAL LABOUR MOST OF HIS LIFE, HE WOULD HOWEVER VISIT ART GALLERIES”
When you look at the artwork Tucker has produced it really is remarkable. They look instantly iconic and expensive. His paintings look themed and extremely distinctive and would not look out of place in any prestigious gallery across the world. According to his family, this is such a contradiction of the person he was.
Eric’s Nephew, Joe, explained to a local newspaper that, “He was immediately drawn to anyone who was slightly marginalised. Eccentrics, tramps, clowns. He had tremendous empathy for anyone in the margins. I think that’s how he felt himself, and he was interested in great characters. It wasn’t done out of pity or an act of charity, it felt like an act of friendship, because I think he really felt like those were his people and he was genuinely interested in characters like that.”
The rarity of Eric’s mass amounts of prolific, silently created work has been of great public interest, the family held a small free exhibition at Eric’s home which blew up on social media. It caused a queue down and around the street to get in. Eric never wanted to publicise his work in his living years, as it would have meant having to step out of the traditional world he embodied. However before his death, Eric asked his brother Tony to exhibit his work.
To commemorate his dying wish, Warrington Museum & Art Gallery got in contact. It pleases me to say that Eric Tucker’s first solo exhibition at a public gallery, Warrington Museum & Art Gallery shows a selection of his paintings and drawings, including favourites from the two-day house exhibition and never-before-seen work. The exhibition is free and is currently running from 23 Nov-23 Feb.