Sean Durkin

A hobby that turned into a successful career, Sean Durkin’s work is genuinely fascinating, personal and reminiscent of his Yorkshire upbringing. 

Born in Middlesbrough, at a time when art galleries were closed on a Sunday, Sean’s father believed art was inaccessible to the working man. In 1972, his father, John Durkin, used this frustration to illegally obtain an L.S. Lowrey painting from the Middlesbrough Art Gallery and held it ransom under three conditions. The Lord Mayor raffles his underpants for charity, the gallery is to be installed with a better alarm system, as well the gallery to be opened on Sundays. Once the piece took pride of place above the mantlepiece, Durkin’s father said: “there you are, son. Art for all as Lowrey intended.” 

Over thirty years ago, for his father’s birthday, Sean began his art career by painting a copy of the Lowrey piece that his father had held ransom. The Lowrey influence has been at the core of Sean’s work ever since. 

His creation of rough and textured surfaces sets a gritty atmosphere, and the ‘matchstick’ people scurrying the scene in Sean’s paintings adds a narrative for the viewer. Sean’s paintings, without fail, include a policeman, a burglar and some of his paintings include a pair of underpants disguised as bunting, all in honour of his father’s sensational stunt. As a Yorkshireman, Sean uses classic, famous Yorkshire shop signs to make his paintings relatable and noticeable.

Another of Sean’s quirks is visible with the tower clock. The significant time of ten to two holds closely to Sean’s personal life. This honours the time his great grandfather passed away, the time his father stole the Lowrey painting and put simply, in Sean’s’ words: “it looks like a smiley face.”

Today, Sean’s work hangs in the Middlesbrough Museum of Modern Art, ironically next to the original L.S. Lowery painting that had stood in Sean’s living room 42 years earlier. Sean has had many successes in his career including sold-out exhibitions, but the proudest being the painting he donated to a local hospice which raised a phenomenal £3000. 

At the Artmarket Gallery, we are proud to stock a wide variety of Sean’s work and love the Yorkshire quirks he uses in his work. 


A hobby that turned into a successful career, Sean Durkin’s work is genuinely fascinating, personal and reminiscent of his Yorkshire upbringing. 

Born in Middlesbrough, at a time when art galleries were closed on a Sunday, Sean’s father believed art was inaccessible to the working man. In 1972, his father, John Durkin, used this frustration to illegally obtain an L.S. Lowrey painting from the Middlesbrough Art Gallery and held it ransom under three conditions. The Lord Mayor raffles his underpants for charity, the gallery is to be installed with a better alarm system, as well the gallery to be opened on Sundays. Once the piece took pride of place above the mantlepiece, Durkin’s father said: “there you are, son. Art for all as Lowrey intended.”