The eldest son of farm labourers, I was born into a once-thriving farming community that had, over the years, been overtaken by polluting heavy industry due to its position by the banks of the mighty Manchester Ship Canal. As a child I absorbed the juxtaposition of the agricultural and industrial landscapes around me. On leaving school I completed my education by travelling the more remote parts of Northern and Eastern Europe. During this period I worked variously as a court usher; hostel warden; snail farmer; and at one low point was to be found cleaning public toilets. After my wanderings I spent several years living in the Outer Hebrides writing and studying the local flora, fauna and folklore before settling in a small village on the edge of Cheshire.
A completely self-taught artist, as a young child I met a friend and one time model of the famed Wigan artist James Lawrence Isherwood; inspired to find out more I discovered Northern Art via Isherwood’s work - perhaps the true face of Northern Art.
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While I paint largely in the English Impressionist School of the North style I opt away from the dull browns and greys of Adolphe Valette and go for a much brighter set of colours. Unlike the majority of Northern School artists I fail to see the illusion of Lancashire pit towns being a modern day Elysium with happy folk trudging to pit or mill. Rather, I acknowledge the truth of grinding non-stop work, poor safety conditions, poverty, chronic health, and rivers so polluted you could walk on the surface without fear of drowning. The grim reality comes through in my art but that isn’t to say my paintings aren’t also full of joyful vignettes and sardonic asides influenced by my childhood experiences.
As an award winning author of mystery animal books it’s hardly surprising that as an artist I paint cryptozoological creatures. Occasionally these paintings come up for sale and are much sought after.
Not all of my work is Northern Impressionist, I have also had some dark surrealism pieces displayed in galleries. When exhibited at An Lanntair in Stornoway my work was memorably described as ‘standing out for all the wrong reasons’ – and promptly sold.
My work has been shown in galleries from the Outer Hebrides to Qatar, and sold across the globe from Australia to the USA.