Darwen-born artist Ed Chapman following in the footsteps of his famous mother
PUBLISHED: 16:30 29 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:27 20 February 2013
We meet the Darwen-born artist who followed the creative footsteps of his famous mother. Amanda Griffiths reports Main photograph by John Cocks
Ed Chapman regularly gets emails from art lovers around the world asking if hes related to Margaret Chapman, a Darwen-born painter who famously out-sold L.S. Lowry at one exhibition.
Margarets Edwardian street scenes are still compared to those of Lowry and the answer to the question is yes. Ed is Margarets son.
Growing up in a creative household his dad was also an artist it comes as no surprise that Ed, now living in Manchester, should follow in the family business.
However, he took a different route and with great success. His mosaic art works start at around 1,200 with his most expensive piece to date, a mosaic of Jimi Hendrix made from guitar plectrums, going for 23,000.
Another mosaic, of Bob Dylan, also helped raise 3,500 for a charity in honour of football legend Bobby Moore. Hes also created images of Princess Diana from of pennies and Alan Sugar made from sugar cubes.
Ive been working mostly in ceramic tiles since 2000, says Ed, but Ive also done some in stone tiles, even uneaten chewing gum anything I can get a number of really.
I think its was the first time anyone had made a portrait of Jimi Hendrix using plectrums. I think a lot of artists would like to be able to do something different, without being too off-the-wall, something abstract without being pretentious. Im just having fun.
Eds love affair with mosaics began thanks to one of his brothers school art projects. He was making a portrait from pieces of torn up paper for his Art A-level, he says. I hadnt seen that before. I think it was a picture of James Dean that he was working on at the kitchen table. I just thought it looked really interesting the way you could see who it was meant to be even when it was only half finished, and for some reason I started my own.
I think it was the musician Kurt Cobain. I was quite impressed with how it turned out, not brilliant but good enough for me to think Ill have another go and made more. A few years later I did a picture of Che Guevara in ceramic tiles. I had always thought they would work but kept putting a mosaic in them for one reason or another. It was reasonably good so Ive been working in them ever since, he says.
Although Ed is known for his portraits, especially those of music icons, he also more practical works which he calls abstract iconic things like a mosaic table top depicting the American flag or book covers as well as taking on commissions for individual clients.
People will see a picture of a mosaic Ive done of John Lennon, for instance, and then say theyd like one of Marc Bolan and, of course, that can be done. Its a surprise to me really that people are so interested in them.
Eds next challenge will be a labour of love re-printing some of the artwork created by his mum, Margaret, who passed away more than a decade ago.
Its about time we did, says Ed. I get enquiries from all over the world asking if Im related to her. She was very well known in Lancashire. In the early 1970s her work was selling for the same sums as Lowry or Helen Bradley, the other artist shes often compared to, but as their work started increasing in value hers didnt. Its something of a mystery really as people in the art world say her work was just as good.
She was alive when I started the mosaics. She would always get involved in whatever we were doing in a very Blue Peter hands-on way. She was genuinely interested in art and all things creative.
Who was Margaret Chapman?
Margaret Chapman, pictured right, was born in Darwen in 1940 and studied at Liverpool College of Art alongside Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon. This is also where she met Eds dad, a sculptor and draftsman.
Her oil and gouache paintings, seen below, often featured Edwardian street scenes, usually in the north. They were often compared to Lowry. Paintings were often reproduced as limited edition prints and have been sold in more than 50 countries around the world.
After a small exhibition of her paintings at Darwen Library in the early 1970s, her work drew the attention of a Manchester art dealer and her career took off.
People often think she was the same age as Lowry, but she was more than 50 years his junior. She would meticulously research the Edwardian era to make sure the dress, settings and spirit of the paintings were accurate.
She managed to combine being a successful artist with being a mother-of-four and in 1978 published a book When Steak Was A Shilling a Pound, which was a collaboration of her best-known works alongside her own prose.
The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of Lancashire Life
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