Braaq

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Brian Shields at work.
Pencil on Paper Self Portrait of the artist as a boy - showing his ubiquitous Striped Top

Brian Shields (1951–1997) was a Liverpool born English painter. He was purportedly born in Kinder Street washouse. He is best known for painting industrial scenes of northern Britain. He acquired the nickname "Braaq" in his school days — on account of his artistic talent he was nicknamed "Braque" after the French artist Georges Braque, a misspelling then transformed Braque into Braaq. He was the fourth child of a large family (12 siblings), his father Dennis Shields was an established artist, one of his brothers, also Dennis, is a Lanarkshire (Coatbridge) based sculptor and painter.

He held his first exhibition in 1974. In 1977 he was invited to hold four exhibitions in London and at this time was described by The Times as "one of the six most successful artists in England."[1] The Liverpool Echo described him as "Liverpool's Lowry",[citation needed] referring to the similarity in style between his work and that of L. S. Lowry.

In the late 1970s Braaq's sister, Ann, died at the young age of 20. In memory of her, many of his subsequent paintings are signed with both his signature and "Ann". Also several of his pictures show graffiti "Agnes", this is in tribute to his mother. He is also known for painting himself into many of his works as a young boy wearing wellies and a black and white striped cotton jumper. Apparently the jumper being the only "new" item of clothing he ever remembered receiving as a young boy.

Most of his working life was spent in Harrogate, initially as a trainee chef. He was "discovered" when murals he painted on the walls of a Harrogate hotel where he worked caused quite a stir and for several weeks there was a search in the local papers for this talented artist. It is generally accepted that this was a planned publicity stunt. Although successful as a living artist it seems he was often faced with financial problems. It is certainly the case that he is well remembered and liked in the Harrogate district and there are numerous anecdotes about painting pub signs for use of facilities; saving to buy a sports car from the local dealer - Harrogate Horseless Carriage as well as getting helping hands throughout his career.

His paintings are well collected and sell for a considerable value, a local Harrogate auction house Morphets, specialises in his paintings and provide a listing of previously auctioned pictures.[2] Brian was made bankrupt toward the end of his career. He died of a brain haemorrhage.

Hartleys Auctioneers in Ilkley who also specialise in the sale of Braaq paintings hold the world record for the highest priced work by the artist sold at auction. This was a racing scene called "Does that mean there's no dinner now" which fetched a hammer price of £56,000 in March 2014.[3]

In the Final Bonhams Auction at Chester on 21 November 2013, 4 Brian shields (Braaq) paintings sold for a combined sum of almost £75,000, proving once again the Investment potential and the great love for this artist keeps increasing almost 17 years after his untimely death.

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