Blyth art teacher and keen collector dies

Tributes have been paid to a former Blyth teacher.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 10:00 am
Former Blyth art teacher Andrew Morley, who became well-known as a collector.

Andrew Morley, who taught art at Blyth Grammar School, passed away last week at the age of 73.

Since his days as an art student in the mid-1960s, Andrew has collected a myriad of weird and wonderful artefacts.

His many collections include Art Deco ceramics, vintage coffee grinders, gramophone needle tins, 19th century glassware, and old enamel advertising signs, which he saved from old shops and collected more than 100.

Together with university friend Chris Baglee, they collected more than 500 signs from 1974, some of which are in Beamish Museum.

In 1983 Andrew’s passion led to him co-founding the Street Jewellery Society, the first club for collectors of enamel signs. Today, the Society has around 130 members.

His friend Adam Bell, of Tyne and Wear Museums, called him a true mentor.

Mr Bell said: “Andrew was a font of knowledge on many things, but his longstanding passion for enamel signs made him one of the world’s foremost experts in this field, with numerous books co-authored on the subject with his fellow sign collector Chris Baglee.

"As well as a collector par excellence, Andrew was also a gifted artist.

"Having moved to Newcastle in 1965 from his native Nottingham to study Fine Art at Newcastle Uni, Andrew would remain here on Tyneside for the rest of his life, going on to be a much-loved teacher of art in local schools, while also continuing to make his own art and indulge his collecting passions.

"He was also a talented caricaturist.

“I will remember Andrew and be thankful that he was a part of my life, in so many ways.

“As a mentor, he taught me so much about vintage advertising and its place in our social history.

"As a friend, Andrew became one of my closest. He was someone with whom you could share your innermost thoughts, and to whom you could turn to for advice.”

Speaking in 2013, Andrew said: “From the mid-1970s I was a pioneer in the rescue and collecting of enamel signs, about which I became expert and for 30+ years have written six books and published many fanzine magazines about them.

"The phrase ‘street jewellery’ which I coined to denote them has entered the Oxford English Dictionary.”