Studio Life

We are back....sort of. I thought it was time to start the blog again after a break since March due to the Coronavirus. Whilst the artists are back working in their studio spaces, unfortunately we have to wait a little longer before we can accept visitors again on mass. We can have individual visitors if arranged by the artist, just contact them if you want a private visit.

Covid-19 completely closed everything down, but it didn't stop the artists from working in other locations, and this post is an update of what we have been doing during the downtime imposed upon us.

Personally I took my studio home and decided that I just couldn't sit in front of the TV until this went away, so for my own sanity, and as a way of improving and experimenting with techniques, I planned to produce at least one piece of art a day. This ended up being a very popular daily account of my thoughts and sketches as we went around the local area on the walks we were allowed to take. I was also lucky enough to be in the local newspaper three times and I also made the front cover of the Society for All Artists (SAA) magazine for July. This was a very proud moment for me. Since returning to the studio, my focus has been on painting subjects I want to, and gladly this has developed into commissions and requests for pieces of art.

My next project is to put all my 130 social distancing sketches into a book, which is already written and is now in the proofing stage before printing. I did this as a record for myself of a very strange time. More on this in future posts as publication gets closer.

Below is a collage of a small number of paintings and sketches done over the past few months.

One other exciting thing that happened over the lockdown period was that I entered the 'Paint the Town at Home' competition, where artists were invited to paint images of Blackburn but from their homes. Normally this event takes place with artists painting live around the town. I entered the digital category and won with my interpretation o Blackburn Cathedral. I even had the painting displayed on the huge screen in Blackburn town centre.

Finally from me, I was delighted to be asked Landlord Jon White of the Castle pub in Accrington if I would like to have a wall in the newly refurbished bar. He's done a massive amount of work during lockdown to decorate the whole pub and my paintings are displayed in their own little gallery.


Catherine Lansdale

The virus has hit Catherine hard as all her classes stopped in one fell swoop. Teaching people to paint and draw is her passion and all her sessions had to stop and have not started back up as yet. It may be a while before they do. However, being a resourceful lady, Catherine started running online classes for her students, and these have continued right through lockdown. She has also been extremely busy with her portraits, and commissions have come in from all over the world. Unfortunately a couple have become the victims of the fragile USA postal system and two have got lost on their way to their forever homes. One in New York and the other in California.

One amazing piece of work Catherine did over the lockdown was to participate in the 'portraits for heroes scheme', where NHS and frontline workers were nominated to have their portraits painted, and Catherine produced what I personally think is one of the best I've ever seen her do. You can see this in the Haworth Art Gallery opening exhibition. More of that later.

Catherine is also a lover of the life drawing class, and whilst she hasn't been able to attend live sessions, there have been opportunities to sketch from the Internet and even on the TV with the life drawing and Portrait Artist of the Year programmes. Her Mary Beard portrait is another Gem. This is shown below along with some of her other work done recently.


Just Imagine UK

JIUK have been hit hard due to the industry they are in. Their work requires them to perform to live audiences at parties, events and home visits for birthdays etc. However, Danielle isn't one to sit around and let this virus beat her. She and Sam quickly established online material and began delivering lots of content both individual as birthday messages, bedtime stories and they even ran virtual parties for groups of children. Their online school also faired well with subscribers enjoying regular online content in a number of subject areas.

They are now right in the middle of their Summer School which is running very successfully at St Nicholas RC Primary School in Accrington. This is always well supported and if you want to get a space, please visit their Facebook page for full details. I am sure this is an amazing club as I saw it in action last year in their studio. Loads of diverse activities and creative content.

Here are a few images from this week.

Permission granted for use of the images.


Leo Crabtree

Leo has been as active as ever during lockdown. Like the other artists, he took lots of materials away and continued to paint from a home studio. He, like lots of others has been walking a lot, and sketching his way around his exercise sessions. One of the spectacular pieces he did is from a quick sketch he did on the Greenway path from Accrington to Baxenden. The final piece he produced gives a true sense of space and is a lovely painting. To see Leo's work, you can visit his Facebook page as he enters the world of Technology. I hope he doesn't mind me mentioning this, but Leo turned 80 a few weeks ago. Lets hope we get a chance to celebrate it with him once the social distancing rules are relaxed.


Andy Scholes

Andy was just about to run his first course on calligraphy at the Haworth when the virus hit. This hasn't stopped the preparation though and I'm sure he will be running it as soon as the rules allow. Andy has been back in the studio with great enthusiasm and has created some excellent example work in a range of materials including his superb glass guilding pieces. He has been busy sign writing too, and has just completed a large commission for a local farm. He has also begun to create on everyday objects. Nobody dare put anything down in fear of it being painted!

Here are a few images of some of his recent works.

You can contact Andy via the studios if you want to discuss a sign writing commission.


Becky Livesey

Becky has been doing a real juggling act over the last few months. She continues to complete her portrait commissions and sign writing projects along side her work towards her final Masters Degree piece. The image shows the concept for her submission and Becky says about the piece......'This is a project to focus on environmental sustainability in creative manufacture of art works. And that Artists need to consider closed loop and semi closed loop production when creating installations etc. She goes on to say that....'This is my concept focussing on the non duality of duality and non duality'.

Sounds like a fascinating project and I know Becky is hoping to get the funding agreed to get her installation manufactured and sited at the University.

You can follow her project on her Design Illustration course blog HERE

As well as all of the above, Becky also took some time to redesign her website at


Snooty Fox Vintage

Gillian has had to move her office from that there London, to her home in Baxenden, which has meant that she has been able to spend more time in her Studio space, and the production line has been manufacturing her candles and other products in anger. It's always nice when she's been in as the whole building smells wonderful. If you want to see her range of products visit her website and social networking pages or pop into her other business, Botany Florist in Baxenden who are open again with strict social distancing rules in place.


Haworth Art Gallery

We said goodbye to Gallery Manager Yvonne Fullalove as she retired from her role at the Haworth. She masterminded the conversion of our Studios and oversaw the running of the Haworth and it's exhibitions, music events and weddings for a number of years. Under her 20 watch, visitor figures have risen from 3,000 to 30,000 and wedding numbers have grown to 30 per year.

Her second in command Gillian has now taken over the reigns and we all look forward to what she has in mind as she begins to take the Gallery forward out of the other side of the pandemic and onwards. I doubt we have seen the last of Yvonne as she starts this new phase of her life and personally I will watch her future exploits on Facebook with great interest!

The Haworth are hoping to reopen at the end of the month, they are currently working very hard to get the appropriate social distancing measures in place to make things safe for everyone. They are planning a reopening exhibition which will include work done by staff and other artists during the lockdown period. This is in the process of been mounted to be ready for opening soon. It will be one to watch out for.

The Gallery Kitchen are already fully operational and serving their usual full menu. Taking over the billiard room as well, means they can accommodate a full cover and I can confirm that everything looks great and the chips with truffle oil are just as good as they ever were! They are open Wednesday to Sunday and are participating in the governments 'Eat out to Help out' scheme, which means you eat for half price on Wednesdays. If you are thinking of visiting on Wednesday it might be a good idea to book.

Stop Press..... Brilliant Gluten Free lunch.

We had lunch at the Gallery Kitchen and the food and distancing measures put in place were excellent. Never felt it was a risk. The food was scrummy, all gluten free for us and the GF carrot cake was superb.

And Finally......

If you are in any way creative or aspiring to be, you have the chance to join our community a sa studio space has just become available in the Motor House side of the Studios. This is a great opportunity to gain a prime studio with all services included, and to join a thriving group of diverse artists and artisans. If you are interested in looking at the space then please contact Gillian Berry at the Haworth or pop up at any time during the week to have a look.

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