The Heartfelt Art of Rochester’s Gordon Kelsey

Gordon Kelsey has always had an intricate eye for detail, such was the case in his professional life as an electrical engineer and the same can be said of his delightful art work.


As well as the fantastic forensic detail and amazing accuracy, what makes the art of Gordon Kelsey so special is the heartfelt story behind it.


Since retirement Gordon has utilised his free time to sharpen his pencils as well as his skills with it, he considers his art a hobby but once the realisation that he could sell the creations had struck home, Gordon tried to use his artistic creations as a vehicle for good. “It was at this time I lost one of my brothers and I decided to donate the proceeds to the British Heart Foundation, in his memory. Over the years I’ve sold my work for a variety of charities- Great Ormond St, Demelza House, Special Care Baby Unit at the All-Saints Hospital in Chatham (no longer there), Wisdom Hospice, Rochester, to name a few”.


The charitable artist has a new cause in the Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia charity and one very close to his heart. “My wife and I were married for 56 years and for the last 6 years of her life she lived with Alzheimer’s Disease. I was her main carer, with help from our 2 daughters. In 2020 she sadly passed away”. Since Jane’s passing Gordon has dived into his artwork, becoming more prolific in his creations and building the ultimate man shed/studio in his back garden.


Gordon’s days are now spent creating, in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society, having produced about 20 drawings, mostly local scenes around Kent, the artist is selling these “as limited edition Giclée prints (each drawing is limited to 55 prints). The originals of these are also available to buy”. CommunityAd had the pleasure of a chat with the Chatham based artist.


So, Gordon firstly your art is delightful and so detailed, what inspires you to get the paints out?

I enjoy drawing and painting and my motivation for doing it is probably the same as other people who enjoy knitting, baking or doing crossword puzzles, the satisfaction of successfully completing something. In my case I gain satisfaction in 2 ways, by completing the artwork and making a donation to charity by being able to sell it.


How long have you lived in Chatham? What makes it a pleasant community to be a part of?

I have lived in Chatham for over forty years and have always found the people to be friendly and helpful. My connection to Chatham goes back to 1942, when although living in Whitstable, I began working at Chatham Dockyard, as an electrical fitter apprentice. Little did I think that many years later I would be returning to the now, Historic Dockyard, to produce drawings of HMS Cavalier and HMS Gannet.


Gordon acknowledges the aesthetic charms of the Medway towns, there’s certainly a lot to talk of, especially for the artists among us “I’m fortunate that in the Medway Towns there are many suitable subjects to draw and paint such as river views and many historic buildings”.


Gordons’s marvellous PR team consist of his two loving daughters, we had the pleasure of speaking to Brenda about her father’s fundraising mission.


Firstly, you must be so proud of your dad raising all this money for a well worthy cause?

My sister, Rachel, and I have been so lucky to have such supportive and loving parents. Both were quite arty in their own ways. Mum and I have had a go at different crafts but have sadly never been able to draw to any standard. We’ve loved seeing dad’s artwork develop over the years and so proud of all the donations he’s made to charities. When he told us that he’d like to concentrate on raising money for Alzheimer’s Society, in memory of mum we were 100% behind him.

We then needed to work out how to market his work, without incurring any unnecessary costs. I said I’d have a go at setting up a Facebook page and see if a few friends would share the page to spread the word. Everyone was very supportive and helped where they could and this generated a few sales. I then decided to try contacting a few media outlets and managed to secure a couple of TV channel interviews, which was amazing. We’re all really blown away by how word is spreading and grateful for all the support.


The interest and support for your dad’s mission has been remarkable, hasn’t it?

I also contacted Alzheimer’s Society to let them know what dad was doing and they were extremely interested and grateful. They shared across all their social media and this in turn generated more sales. He has had enquiries as far away as USA and Australia. Although we never actually called upon the services of the Alzheimer’s Society, while caring for mum, we knew they were always there for us and we could contact them for support if we needed it. They offer such a range of help, support and services and are a huge comfort to so many. Alzheimer’s is such a terrible condition to live with and had a big impact on our lives for many years. We are also proud how dad was a 24/7 carer for so many years but still managed to carry on drawing throughout and raising funds for charities.

He is a very generous and humble person and we know how lucky we are to have him as our dad.


To see more of Gordon Kelsey’s heartfelt art work head to his Facebook page – Gordon Kelsey Artist.

by Dave McKenna

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