A FUND set up to continue the legacy of an artist who died earlier this year will be launched at an exhibition in Bampton.

The Heartstone Fund, established to help young artists at the beginning of their careers, was established in memory of Lendon Scantlebury, a painter and sculptor who lived in Wantage and died suddenly in January.

Mr Scantlebury’s partner, fellow artist Dawn Benson, will raise money for the fund by continuing the exhibitions that the couple started together.

Before his death, Mr Scantlebury had already taken five artists on a journey from their first expressions of talent to becoming confident artists with bright futures, and was passionate to do more to help young people on the cusp of their careers in the art world.

Ms Benson said: “We were together for 17 years. We worked together, lived together – we were soulmates. We did everything together.

“When he died we decided that we couldn’t let everything he did stop just like that.

“We just wanted to try to do something for him. He was an incredible person and he was really passionate about working with young artists.”

The Heartstone Fund will be officially launched at the private viewing of Ms Benson’s exhibition at West Ox Arts Gallery in Bampton on June 2.

It will comprise indoor and outdoor sculpture, paintings, drawings and prints featuring a variety of artists, materials and styles. The exhibition will then run in the gallery and Cobbles Garden from Saturday, June 3, to Sunday, June 25.

The final day of the exhibition has been timed to coincide with Bampton Hidden Gardens when more than 25 gardens will open their doors to the public.

Mr Scantlebury fell ill in January. The day before his death at the age of 56 doctors told him he had weeks or months to live.

Ms Benson continued: “It was a complete shock. It was like a bomb being thrown into him.”

She said the form of cancer that killed him had not yet been identified.

Born in Barbados, Mr Scantlebury moved to the UK in 1971, bringing with him the memories of his early life which formed the basis for his art.

He worked for more than 30 years in the bronze foundry and sculpture casting business, having owned and run his own art foundry for some years. This gave him the knowledge and understanding of working in bronze as well as the wide range of patinas - restoring as well as creating new work.

He was a passionate professional artist who exhibited widely and curated successful exhibitions to showcase not only his own art but also that of his fellow artists.

Mr Scantlebury always encouraged young aspiring artists to explore new media and methods and had planned to endow a foundation to enable more young people to discover the art within them.