I am an artist and curator, living in Greater Manchester for over 20 years. Since graduating in Fine Art a long time ago, I have pursued a ‘portfolio career’ – juggling exhibitions and participatory projects, paid employment and studio work. I managed the gallery for West Yorkshire Print Workshop in Huddersfield for several years and currently manage the exhibitions programme at the Turnpike Gallery in Leigh. Over the last several years I have had more studio time (at Cross Street Arts in Wigan) and returned to one of my first loves – landscape.
What I aim for in the paintings is less a representation of a single view and more an accumulation of memories of looking, of being there or travelling through, from source materials that might include sketchbook studies, photographs and images in my own mind/memory. A pictorial equivalent of visual sensation. The places I most frequently ‘re-visit’ in this way are the Scottish Highlands and the journey over the Pennines on the M62.
When a painting is ‘on hold’, then I might switch to collage, which essentially involves working with found images – quite often a vintage postcard, cut up paintings and colour swatches. The postcards contain memories in a particular way; either from my own visits to places and bought by me as a child or collected as an adult of places that I remember. There is a conversation between the two techniques, and one informs the other. Both involve a slow process.
Small scale and often richly coloured, these collages initiate a conversation about landscape, memory and human intervention. The materials of their making (found images, painted brush marks and flat colour swatches) construct an abstracted scene; a disrupted view, suggestive of stasis but also moving through. Often worked on vintage postcards, two or three hard-edged, geometric elements are introduced which generate a kind of narrative. They might have their origin in my noticing a bright pink wrapped hay bale in a field or a red brick wall in front of some trees. The shapes enter like characters on a stage, playing out in front of a landscape backdrop. The works are small, simple and can look effortless, but take time to resolve. Compositional balance and visual pleasure, engaging eye and imagination.
As a curator, I have commissioned and worked on exhibitions and participatory projects with a range of artists, curators and organisations, including the Arts Council Collection, Chrysalis Arts, Leigh Neighbours Project, West Yorkshire Print Workshop, Angela Kingston, Andrew Bick, Tony Bevan, Norman Dilworth, Mohammad Barrangi, Danielle Creenaune, Katherine Jones, Sumi Perera, Saba Rifat, Paula Fenwick, Zarah Hussain, Leo Fitzmaurice, Philip Davenport, Cross Street Arts, OWL Project and Willie Williams.
I have worked in partnership with established commercial galleries such as Cristea Roberts and Gimpel Fils, as well as public institutions such as Tate Liverpool, the Whitworth Art Gallery, Huddersfield Art Gallery, Institute of Education, London, Liverpool Hope University and York St. John University.
I have exhibited widely in galleries in the UK and developed a number of socially engaged artist-led projects, including Wall of Fame (Leigh), Dialogue (London), Hospitals Talking Art (Aberdeen and London), and Enclosure (Banff, Canada). I continue to engage in supporting artists and students and am management committee member and studio holder at Cross Street Arts in Standish, a registered charity providing studio space and support for professional artists in Wigan.
Central to my ethos and practice is the enrichment of people’s lives through an encounter with the visual arts – nurturing the conversation between art, artists, and audience.