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Grieving family display their grandfather's private art collection to share his secret talent

PUBLISHED: 14:46 22 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:25 23 April 2019

Keith Spence, who was “born and bred in Southwold” never flaunted his artistic flair. Picture: Contributed by Duane Cleveland

Keith Spence, who was "born and bred in Southwold" never flaunted his artistic flair. Picture: Contributed by Duane Cleveland

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A grieving family have opened their grandfather's private art collection to the public for the first time, to share his secret talent following his death.

He painted the countryside, sea scapes and railways. Picture: Contributed by Duane ClevelandHe painted the countryside, sea scapes and railways. Picture: Contributed by Duane Cleveland

Keith Spence, who was “born and bred in Southwold” never flaunted his artistic flair.

But following his recent death at 92, his family dug through a collection of more than 100 paintings to pull together an exhibition for the community who loved him.

The late artist painted stunning vistas of the Norfolk and Suffolk country side, seascapes as well as railways.

His grandson, Duane Cleveland, 42, from Lowestoft said: “He was a true Southwold gent born 1926 in the town where he lived all his life.”

Following his wife Margaret’s death in 2014, the stalwart continued painting privately at his home. Picture: Contributed by Duane ClevelandFollowing his wife Margaret’s death in 2014, the stalwart continued painting privately at his home. Picture: Contributed by Duane Cleveland

During the early part of the war, Mr Spence was evacuated to the country. He later joined the army as a crack-shot marksman.

After the war, Mr Spence became a metre reader and fisherman, later taking on work as a care taker for Southwold Primary School.

“After retiring from the school, his hobbies became bowls, gardening and continuation of painting,” Mr Cleveland said.

Following his wife Margaret's death in 2014, the stalwart continued painting privately at his home.

His grandson, Duane Cleveland, 42, from Lowestoft said: “He was a true Southwold gent born 1926 in the town where he lived all his life.” Picture: Contributed by Duane ClevelandHis grandson, Duane Cleveland, 42, from Lowestoft said: “He was a true Southwold gent born 1926 in the town where he lived all his life.” Picture: Contributed by Duane Cleveland

“His painting began with sketching at an early-age and with his skills developing - he moved on to painting.

“I think the thing is he was a person that would go about his work, we knew he was very good - but he was very humble,” he said.

Before he died, the artist gave away his favourite pieces of art to his family and friends.

“He has a collection to view of around 100 pictures, not counting those he had gifted to people close to him,” Mr Cleveland said.

These stunning paintings were done by late artist Keith Spence. Picture: Contributed by Duane ClevelandThese stunning paintings were done by late artist Keith Spence. Picture: Contributed by Duane Cleveland

On Sunday, April 28 an exhibition of the local artist's work will take place at the Sole Bay Bowls Club, Wangford Road in Reydon.

Mr Cleveland said the free exhibition is a chance for the town to see their father and grandfather in a different light.

“He loved living in Southwold, he was a Southwold man. Most of the people in the town knew him,” he said.

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