Alan earns fine art degree at 84

HISTORY AND ART: Army veteran James Alan Beet (S)
HISTORY AND ART: Army veteran James Alan Beet (S)

An 84-year-old fine art student created a piece of art history with his work and now it is to go on show at a military museum.

Former regimental Sgt Maj. James Beet used his photographs from when his Army service took him to the Far and Middle East, as well as parts of Africa and Europe, as the basis for his screen prints, which mixed together history and art.

Mr Beet, who lives in Burnley, went back to school when he was 81, after his wife died in 2004, and studied for an honours degree in fine art (integrated media) at University Centre at Blackburn College.

He exhibited his work at the college’s annual art show and from September 10th he will also have gallery space in Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Museum, at Fulwood Barracks, Preston.

Mr Beet is now studying for a post-graduate teaching qualification and hopes to be able to pass on his skills and enthusiasm by teaching art therapy in care homes. He said: “I returned to education at 81 years old, six years after my wife died, because I needed to fill my time.

“I decided to study a fine art degree at the college as it is an integrated media course, which meant I was able to use my old photographs in an artistic way.

“I have led a very colourful life and been fortunate to travel the world 10 times over – it is nice to express what I’ve seen and experienced in an emotive and practical way. In essence, I wanted to create my own piece of art history.” Mr Beet’s photographs for his final project included some from his time in India, Saudi Arabia, Palastine, Egypt and Germany.

John Harrison, the college’s head of arts, humanities and social sciences, said: “When James came to study his degree we jumped at the chance to have him as a student. A man with so many visual and emotive experiences to draw upon can bring a mountain of creative talent to an art project.

“His final year project is testament to the effort he has put into his work and we wish him all the very best in his teaching qualification.”