The Project

Although there exists a paper archive of information, that George left behind, it became obvious to us that it needed a great deal of background knowledge to interpret it.

Whilst we could still draw that information together, the family wanted to produce the definitive collection of George’s works with each painting’s descriptive text. It is our hope that as we find those missing works, they too can be scanned in order to complete the archive.

The Task

The latest painting, drawing or sketch was always a topic of conversation throughout the family, and so a shared network of facts, memories and stories was built amongst us. After Ethel and then George died and time passed, those family remembering started to fade and the memory of where each picture was, and the stories behind them, started to be lost.

John Mainwaring, George’s son, became the keeper of George’s records and the collator of all the information the family could gather. The next obvious task was to produce this website. Its purpose is partially to consolidate and present George’s work, because, as a family, we are very proud of what George accomplished. However, our main objective is to trace those pictures that are currently lost, and we hope that this site may help us do that.

Currently, the majority of the images are relatively poor quality photographs, that were in the archive from George’s exhibitions or have kindly been supplied by current owners. Hopefully, as we find the lost art, with the owner’s permission, we can have them professionally scanned, out of their frames, and added to George’s new digital archive, so his work can be enjoyed by a new larger audience.   

Family Portrait 92 Whitehall Street - George Mainwaring – Rochdale Artist

The Family

George’s parents, both originally from Shropshire, were married on Christmas Day, 1900, at St. James’s Church, Rochdale. Their new family got off to a flying start with George’s mother bringing two children and George’s father bringing four teenage daughters. George became the third child, second son in his parent’s new family that would grow to be five boys and three girls. When he was little, George’s grandmother Mainwaring also lived with the family.

Working mainly as a carter, George’s father had to provide for this growing house full, with the children finding such jobs as they could until old enough to begin full-time work in one of the local cotton mills. All of the children were served by the Elementary School system. At the age of 12, George had to work part-time in John Bright’s cotton mill to help the family economy.

All the children began their working life in some form associated with the cotton industry. Times were difficult before 1914 and things got worse with the rationing of the First World War. The elder children all finding work where they could. His step-sister Polly, a munitions worker at Lochmaben was invalided home with the inevitable jaundice caused by working with explosives. Somehow the family stayed together and thrived, all children eventually marrying and having families of their own.

George met Ethel in 1929 and they married in 1933 when they could afford the 6/8d a week rent for their terraced cottage on Whitworth Road. They had two children, Dorothy, 1937 and John, 1945, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The Little Dog

Why is our logo a dog? Not just a dog, a scruffy little dog that’s ignoring you. The dog was far from our first choice, we tried all sorts of contrived images, photographs, George’s signature, we thought about abstract designs, text designs… none of them were right. All we knew was that we wanted something that was of George, that spoke to us about George.

We spotted the sketch of the dog in the bottom corner of a page of ideas and studies, a page like hundreds of others, but we like dogs. We thought long and hard, perhaps too long, but it did start to speak to us about George. There are lots of northern artists, but what we feel about George’s art is that it’s real, its a snapshot of an event he saw, it’s naive yet sophisticated and the people who live in George’s art, lived in George’s world. They were all real people with their own lives who he captured in the moment he’s describing. They’re far from generic Rochdale folk.

So what does that have to do with the dog? The dog is simply and minimally drawn, just a few grey lines, but at the same time it’s carefully drawn, with subtlety and sophistication. In a moment he has told us so much about a scruffy little mongrel, and not just its form but about its character too. It’s not there to look pleasing or to fill a space, that is its place and it’s currently dealing with a flea, it has no interest in you the observer, it’s just living the life of a scruffy little dog, with fleas, and George captured it.

logo draft


If you have any questions about George’s work or questions on purchasing an image license, our team is ready to answer any of your questions. So feel free to get in touch with us.