To my knowledge, the only word Eugene Halliday used to describe himself was ‘artist’. This page looks at him in this aspect: his training and his art work.
Eugene Halliday studied at the Municipal School of Art in Manchester, receiving a thorough grounding in design, illustration, life drawing and anatomy, historical styles, calligraphy, etching and modelling.
Starting two months before his 17th birthday in 1928, Halliday attended the School of Art for three years, returning later for two separate years of advanced study in 1933-4 and 1940-41.
This portrait is, perhaps, the earliest known drawing by Halliday, dated 1929. He would have been aged 17 or 18 at the time, in his first or second year at Art School.
By 1933 he was working as an illustrator and cartoonist, for Allied Newspapers in Manchester.[i] His first job, however, seems to have been in London: “When I started on my business adventures as an illustrator in the ’30’s,” wrote Halliday in a letter to a friend, “I had my first flat in Westbourne Terrace, Hyde Park. Closely associated with the film industry and their technical and other staffs, I soon learned what ‘success’ meant. Thereupon I decided to become a hermit…”[i-i]
Some of the early studies and sketches from life which Halliday made still survive. Stylistically, and in relation to his other work, they may date from the 1930s and 1940s.[ii]
Halliday was a painter as well as illustrator, and exhibited his work in Manchester. Always busy and often working on a task at the last minute, sometimes he would stay up all night completing work for an exhibition.[v] He knew the Manchester art dealers Andras Kalman[vi] (1919-2007) who founded the Crane-Kalman gallery in 1949; and Margot Ingham[vii] (1918-1978), an artist who, with her husband, Ned Owens, opened the Midday Studios in 1947. L S Lowry (1887-1976) exhibited at these galleries. Ian Grant, who became painting master at the Manchester School of Art in 1937, exhibited at the Midday Studios.
Eugene Halliday was an artist, but he also studied philosophy, world religions, mysticism, science and many other topics. He talked to all who were interested, in soirees and later public talks, for example at the Ballet Club.[viii] Not a great deal of information is available about the Ballet Club, but it may have been opposite the recently vacated BBC premises on Oxford Road in Manchester. “The ballet club’s premises on Oxford Road became a hive of art, music and dance activities,” recollected Manchester resident Margaret Pritchard. “At one exhibition I could have bought an L S Lowry painting for a very small sum but it seemed expensive at the time. We had lectures in dance from Ninette de Valois, Marie Rambert and even Jomo Kenyatta on tribal dance”.[ix]
A community of like-minded people gathered around Eugene Halliday in Manchester in the 1940s and 1950s, first in Northumberland Road, Old Trafford [x]; then Daisy Bank Road in Chorlton-on-Medlock [xi], then Wellington Road in Whalley Range. Many people lived in the same house as Halliday, at various times, or visited regularly. They included artists, actors, puppeteers, teachers, business men, travelling salesmen, musicians, engineers, ex-servicemen, refugees from Hitler’s Germany and many more.[xii]
Halliday did not, as far as the author is aware, have a regular job, for his personal studies and talks took up much of his time. He continued with his artistic work for his whole life, illustrating his talks with drawings, sketching wherever he went, and, at least in the early 1950s, undertaking some advertising work. The community around him chipped in from their earning, and there was a “kitty” tin at Wellington Road to pay for the huge quantities of simple vegetarian food prepared by Joan Crane and Deborah Wood, which was consumed by all who lived in or visited the house.[xiii]
A cottage industry grew up at Wellington Road, started by Halliday. He was a skilled carver in miniature, and created a menagerie of small plaster models which were manufactured in the cellar of the house by members of the community, including Joan Crane. Others went out with cases full of the models to sell on the road. Deborah Wood, for a time, sold them from a stall in the basement of Lewis’s Department Store in Piccadilly.[xiv]
Halliday would first make a model in plasticene, then create preliminary mould for a plaster master which he would carve in fine detail. Then he would thrust a pan of croyd rubber, cut into pieces, onto the coal fire in the middle room where everyone gathered, to melt for a mould. The plaster masters would be placed in a biscuit tin, and the boiling molten rubber poured over. Once sufficient models had been made, using plaster of paris, large multiple moulds could be produced to mass-produce small animals, brooches, Pools’ Pixies and all kinds of other creatures.[xv][To be continued]
Halliday Archives: Halliday left a great deal of material, both written, spoken and artwork. Pieces are held by a number of people, some by myself, and some by others to whom I am most grateful for being allowed access.
Key to Archive material:
*MMU = Manchester Metropolitan University Archive
*ZM = Eugene Halliday’s archive, held by Zero Mahlowe, widow of David Mahlowe, Halliday’s Literary Executor.
*HY = Hephzibah Yohannan’s archive of Halliday’s material.
*AS = Abel Stahnion’s archive of Halliday’s material.
*BL = Bernard Lawrence’s archive of Halliday’s material.
*J&RF = Joan and Ron Ford’s archive of Halliday’s material.
*A&VR = Alan and Vidah Roberts’ archive of Halliday’s material.
[i] Source: Student Record Cards, Archive of Manchester Metropolitan University.[i-i] Source: Philip Rose archive.
[ii] Source: author’s personal archive.
[iii] Source: author’s personal recollection
[iv] https://littleowlski.wordpress.com/tag/dorcas/ (scroll about half way down the page)
[v] Source: Joan Crane, personal recollection.
[vi] Author’s personal recollection and http://www.cranekalman.com/history/
[vii] Author’s personal recollection and http://www.wendyjlevy-art.com/artistpage.php?id=89
[viii] Source: Joan Crane, personal recollection.
[ix] Source: personal reminiscence of Margaret Pritchard, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/48/a4057148.shtml (Credit: ‘WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar’)
[x] Source: Student Record Card, Manchester Metropolitan Archive; Joan Crane, personal reminiscence
[xi] Source: Joan Crane, personal reminiscence
[xii] Source: author’s personal reminiscence.
[xiii] Source: author’s personal reminiscence.
[xiv] Source: author’s personal reminiscence.
[xv] Source: author’s personal reminiscence.