Remembering Michael Pullée NEAC (1936-2021)

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Michael Pullée, Hill of the Gypsies 2003

Sadly, early in 2021, we learned of the death of New English artist Michael Pullée. He was elected a member of the New English Art Club in 1978, following in the footsteps of his father Ernest Edward Pullée and mother Margaret Pullée who were both NEAC members before him, clearly passing their talent and passion for painting on to the next generation. 

Michael studied at Leeds College of Art and the Royal College of Art before working as a designer and teacher, becoming Head of the School of Art and Design at Huddersfield Polytechnic and Head of the Department of Art and Design at York College of Arts and Technology. 

Michael's work developed from personal observation and responses to the South Devon landscape, the sea and ships. Travel to the Mediterranean – Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt – widened his range of subjects. Drawings in a variety of media formed the basis of most of the paintings. Wherever possible, he preferred direct observation of the subject, painting or drawing out of doors, on-site, in the studio, or from a boat or ship.

Mary Jackson recalls bumping into Michael in 2016, “I noticed he had great difficulty negotiating the steps to hand in his work for the Annual Exhibition. I gave him a hand and we had a long chat. He told me he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's and was so disappointed that he would find it impossible to come to the show as he took such delight from being a member. With a very shaky hand, he wrote me a delightful letter of thanks. He was charming and a gentleman to the core.”

Peter Brown remembers, “In 2019, the New English staged a wonderful show with the St Ives Society at their Mariner’s Hall in the town. It was a joy to hang and to bring members' work to that wonderful artistic community. And while it was well-received, sadly sales were not ground-breaking. Of the small number we did sell, however, one was a Michael Pullée – a real beauty of a stormy sea, rich in his signature Prussian blue and dark greys. It was wonderful to inform him and I remember him being utterly delighted. Michael was keen to remain very much a part of the Club in the last year or two of his life. His death marks the end of the Pullée dynasty’s relationship with the New English. As ever though their work lives on and we are all the richer for it.”