We’ve had a couple of emails asking for more information about the posters and the artist from the original run of Dancing England. So we’ve dug deep and we’ve delved to inform you all about Richard Scollins.
Richard (Rick) Scollins was an Ilkeston-based artist born in 1946 and had many creative strings to his bow. Not only did he create the posters for Dancing England, he was an accomplished landscape painter and also painted many military figures and uniforms.
Together with Ilkeston school teacher, John Titford, he produced and illustrated a series of 3 books called “Ey Up Mi Duck”, concerned with the promotion and preservation of the speech and dialect of the Erewash Valley. The books sold in excess of 10,000 copies. They also created an LP, also entitled ‘Ey Up Mi Duck’ in 1978 featuring dialogue, poerty, brass bands and music, all celebrating the local dialect.
Rick also painted many of Ilkeston’s pub signs and had his art exhibited all around the world. He was also a Morris dancer and performed with the folk group, Ramsbottom, where he was ‘discovered’ by Phil Heaton.
Phil Heaton remembers Rick; “I first met Rick Scollins when he was cavorting with Derby Morris Men in about 1976. He recognised my accent and was swiftly in ‘amangst it’ with the genuine Geordie Pitmatic, his Dad being a native of Winlaton in County Durham. Rick had a brilliant grasp of dialects and together with John Titford, wrote and illustrated the first widely read dialect books with tongue in cheek humour. In a short time, their book ‘Ey Up Me Duck’ became and has remained a classic and has gone through many reprints”.
Rick was immensely proud of his Ilson (Ilkeston) background and was an instigator in Ilkeston’s Civic Society. He was an avid collector of stories and tales, many of which reappeared in his art work. He was an excellent singer of Derbyshire songs, a reciter of tales and always a pleasure to be with. His reputation as a drummer was enhanced in the company of Ram’s Bottom Ceilidh band with such luminaries as Keith Kendrick, Barry Coope and Lester Simpson. He was also, and not many people know this, the President of the Derbyshire Geordie Dwarf Society.
Rick was a prolific artist with a fantastic eye for detail and a deep interest in Military Costume and social history, to quote an appreciation of his work, ‘…anyone who has admired the work of Richard Scollins knows the illustrations are not ‘parade ground’ but captures the real face of soldiering, the fatigue despair courage dust and grime with depictions showing stained and torn uniforms sore feet and brocken boots!’
Rick’s interests lay also in the wider realms of folklore and he was intensely interested in reviving the Derbyshire bagpipes. He had great ideas before his time. Derby Morris dancing in masks was one of his superb ideas but when it didn’t gel, he began proposing a new ‘mystical’ dance team in the late 1970s …blood, guts and anonymous masked dancers; drums; appearing and drifting aware unannounced…tentatively called Dog’s Own (an anagram). The team, full of similarly thinking dancers dragged along by Rick’s enthusiasm, faded away when he died in 1992.
Of course Rick was a great supporter of Dancing England and his posters reflected both the organiser’s and many of his own idea.
The Derbyshire Bagpiper was his second poster but the first was his image of a Dog’s Own dancer, later images of the dancing devil were part of his mystical philosophy and appeared often in the later posters.
He was a great friend and supporter. And open to all ideas.
To quote Fraxinus, the blogger; ‘…I believe Richard Scollins was one of the best military artists and I for one miss his work in books and magazines. I am just pleased that he was as prolific illustrator as he was but what more would he have produced?’
Rick is still fondly remembered in his home town and in 2010 had a street named after him (Scollins Court). His work on Dancing England is much admired and appreciated by all.
Well, it’s a tough task but someone’s got to do it. Creating the 2017 Dancing England poster that is. We have found a suitably talented and creative artist, ready to take on the Scollins mantle and most definitely make it their own. We’re not going to tell you who it is yet, but rest assured they know the brief and can deliver upon it.
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Until next time