Success at last for town’s own ‘matchstick man’

'Back Street Canal, Liverpool' by Brian Shields 'Braaq'. (S)
'Back Street Canal, Liverpool' by Brian Shields 'Braaq'. (S)

Artwork from a painter dubbed ‘Harrogate’s answer to matchstick man’ has sold for £15,500 at auction.

The oil on canvas, picked up by a private dealer at the Addisons of Barnard Castle sale on Saturday, is the work of renowned painter Brian Shields.

The style of Shields, once described by The Times as one of the six most successful artists in England, was often likened to matchstick men creator LS Lowry.

“Braaq is considered amongst the leading artists in the country,” said Richard Edwards, senior auctioneer and valuer at Addisons.

“His popularity is steadily increasing and his paintings are sought after by art lovers and collectors all over the world, giving his work great investment potential.”

Although born in Liverpool, Shields spent most of his working life in Harrogate, initially as a trainee chef. He was ‘discovered’ when murals he painted on the walls of one of the town’s hotels caused a stir and for several weeks there was a search in the Advertiser for this talented artist.

He is best known for painting industrial scenes of northern Britain - often signing his work ‘Braaq’, a nickname that he acquired in his school days.

Although successful as a living artist, Shields was made bankrupt towards the end of his career and died in the 1990s of a brain haemorrhage.

The popularity of his work today keeps increasing and his paintings regularly sell for large sums at auction.