Lancashire and the North West’s Hot Artists Uncovered
PUBLISHED: 11:26 30 July 2014 | UPDATED: 17:05 15 May 2015
Giles Hepplestone of Hepplestone Fine Art in Lancashire explores Lancashire’s most popular artists.
The North West of England has been, and still is, home to very many fine artists. Everyone has heard of LS Lowry and some of the other great artists such as Adolphe Valette and Theodore Major who lived in Lancashire but there is a whole new group of artists that are now making their mark in the North West. Some of these are already nationally and internationally collected artists while others are still striving to get to the next rung on the ladder.
The legacy of famous Northern artists such as L S Lowry lives on and has helped to inspire a whole generation of artists. Northern artists such as James Lawrence Isherwood and William Turner lived and mixed with Lowry and are still collected today in the years and decades after their deaths.
William Ralph Turner was born in 1920 and painted areas around the North West for over sixty years until his death in 2013. Turner absorbed the works of German Expressionists and the French Fauves, culminating in a style that was ironically Northern English, depicting the mill towns and industrial landscapes. In the last few years of his life, and increasingly so since his death, William Turner’s paintings have increased in demand and is now becoming regarded as one of the twentieth centuries most important Northern artists with collectors including Lord Sebastien Coe and Sir Peter Ustinov.
Like William Turner, James Lawrence Isherwood painted the gritty reality of 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s North West England. Born and raised in Wigan, Isherwood was influenced by the Northern landscape and captured the cobbled streets and shawled women that he saw as a child as well as travelling the UK and to Europe to capture the landscape. Despite living in relative poverty for most of his life, Isherwood obtained widespread collectability during his lifetime with even Prince Charles reportedly owning an Isherwood painting. In fact, perhaps the most telling complement for Isherwood was when L S Lowry himself proclaimed, ‘I only buy pictures that I like…I bought an Isherwood years ago’.
The history of the Northern art scene records these artists for all time as influencial twentieth century painters whose legacy is passed on to twenty first century Lancashire artists such as Michael John Ashcroft MAFA. Like his predecessors before him, Michael Ashcroft is driven to capture the Northern landscape, both in his rural landscape paintings, and his highly sought after urban work. The changing times is marked when we view Michael Ashcroft’s vibrant urban cityscapes against the dark industrial works of the likes of Lawrence Isherwood, William Turner and Theodore Major. The atmosphere captured in Michael Ashcroft’s paintings is breathtaking, displaying the bright neon lights of the modern urban environment whilst often contrasting them with the old historical pubs that stand proudly amongst the glass and steel dominated urban sprawl.
Michael Ashcroft’s journey as an artist is an interesting one. Despite being a promising young artist, Ashcroft chose the career of an engineer as Leyland Trucks and only seriously considered the option of a life as a full time artist after life changing brain tumour diagnosis at the age of 28. Now in his mid 40’s, Michael Ashcroft is amassing a growing army of high profile collectors after TV appearances on the BBC ‘Show Me the Monet’ program and sell out shows at Hepplestone Fine Art and exhibitions with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters at the Mall Galleries in London.
The work of all of these artists formed the basis of a Lancashire and Northern Art exhibition at Hepplestone Fine Art in July 2014. The exhibition was complemented by the works of other Northern artists including Geoffrey Key, Braaq, John Thompson and Barry Hilton. Barry Hilton’s paintings are on constant display in the gallery amongst the other Northern artists and are widely collected for their intensely atmospheric stormy skyscapes. Having spent an influential period of his young life in Cornwall in the late 1970’s, Barry Hilton became fascinated with the changes moods of our skies and now commits them to canvas with unbelievable impact.
Full details of the each of these amazing Northern artists can be found at www.hepplestonefineart.com or by visiting the gallery with the grounds of Heskin Hall Estate, PR7 5PA.