Art of England (Front Cover & Feature, June 2010)
Art of England (November 2008, October 2007 & April 2007)
Galleries Magazine (2008-2009)
Aesthetica Magazine (Jan 2008)
Lancashire Life (December 2007)
Concept for Living (October 2007)
“… as Angela’s reputation as the rising star of British Art spreads, the time is coming for her to say goodbye to many more pieces from her collection”
Rebecca Drake, Editor of ‘Concept for Living’
Nestled amidst the beautiful Lancashire countryside in the picturesque village of Ribchester sits the contemporary art gallery Ascot Studios. Opened 18 months ago by vivacious Lancashire lass Angela Wakefield, the studio exhibits contemporary art by a variety of up-and-coming artists, including an assortment of work by Angela herself.
Diminutive in proportion, with sparkling eyes and a personality to match, Angela exudes a vibrant enthusiasm for her art and gallery alike. Both the gallery and accompanying studio, where Angela creates a lot of her work, are housed in Bee Mill, a converted textile mill which dates back to 1888. Retaining a variety of its original features and flooded with natural light, the mill is the ideal environment to showcase Angela’s unique work; a variety of urban landscapes, inspired by everyday life in the North West.
Angela and her partner Phil show me around the gallery. It’s a beautiful contemporary space. The urban look and feel of the interior juxtaposed with the quaint riverside village location of the mill; a space to contemplate and create. An enthusiastic artist since childhood, Angela tells me she began drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil. Raised in Chaigley near Accrington, she completed her fine art degree at UCLAN in 2002. She then spent the following 4 years pursuing her ultimate dream of owning her own gallery, whilst, of course, developing her own artistic career too.
Passionate about the North and also other northern artists, Angela opened a studio next to her gallery to give other up-and-coming artists a place to work and be inspired.
“It’s not just about me,” she explained; “It’s about the North and northern artists. Why should we have to leave the North to make it? We draw inspiration from each other. Sometimes there are five or six of us working here at the same time. I love the buzz. The creative banter. Hearing paintbrushes against canvas.”
Angela has found inspiration for much of her work in scenes that many of us would perceive as mundane. Her critically acclaimed collection Urban Landscapes, which includes pieces such as ‘Chip Shop, Nuttal Street, Accrington’, ‘CIS Solar Tower Manchester’ and ‘Winter Rush Hour’, exude movement, colour and light. Angela explained to me that she is fascinated by cityscapes at nightfall : “I am inspired by the vast array of luminous man-made colours that transform our towns and cities from bleak and depressing spaces by day, to vibrant and colourful fairgrounds by night.”
Respected writer and art historian Ian McClurg- Welland recently commented:
“Angela Wakefield’s art is now attracting the attention of private collectors and galleries. The approachability and affordability of her art is refreshing against the backdrop of the industry’s perception. The fascinating appeal of her urbanised utopias is reflecting a change in attitudes further afield. Her work is cutting edge, unique in execution, and without doubt breaking through.”
A variety of pieces from Angela’s Urban Landscapes series are currently being exhibited at Ascot Studios. The pieces are acrylic on canvas and range in size from 8” square to 4’ square. Angela tells me how the series evolved:
“The Urban Landscapes are my main passion. I start by taking a series of photographs. Sometimes I can take up to a thousand photos, but I will choose only one, which I know will work as a painting. Mostly I will have an idea of exactly how I want my work to end up and I will work to that end. I paint when I feel inspired which can be any time of the day or night, whenever it feels right.”
Even to my untrained eye, each of Angela’s Urban Landscapes exhibits emotion and intensity. The energy and vivacity which bring each piece to life are a reflection of Angela’s vibrant and passionate personality. Angela tells me that opening the gallery is her biggest career landmark to date. She explains that starting out as a young artist, it is difficult to know where to begin:
“I didn’t know where to go to make my dream of becoming an artist and owning a gallery a reality. I did a business course, which gave me confidence and helped me with the day-to-day basics of running my own business. Places for new artists to exhibit are few and far between and many galleries just don’t have the facilities for contemporary artists. As an artist you will paint anyway, but you have to be persistent. My main piece of advice to anyone starting out would be to join a studio, it’s so important. It enables you to get support, maximise your skills and learn from others.”
On the day I visited the gallery, a potential buyer drops in and expresses an interest in a selection of Angela’s pieces. She’s thrilled but also, surprisingly, seems somewhat saddened. Of course, she opened the gallery as an outlet to exhibit and sell her work, but it is clear that she has an emotional attachment to each of the paintings. She tells me about one of her pieces, ‘Jazz Band’. “I loved that piece. It was inspired by an amazing, enigmatic jazz band that we saw playing in a restaurant in China Town, Manchester. I was so sad when it went but pleased too because I knew it went to someone who would appreciate it. A good home.”
A selection of Angela’s work can be viewed between 11am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday, at Ascot Studios. With work ranging in price from £250 , the current exhibition of her work represents an exciting opportunity to invest in a unique piece of original British artwork. As Angela’s reputation as the rising star of British art spreads, the time is surely coming for her to say goodbye to many more pieces from her Urban Landscapes collection.
Angela Wakefield is an honest and engaging member of the national art community with a positive enthusiasm for painting and life in general. Angela has been painting seriously for the last ten years, but one of her earliest memories is of spending hours with a pencil and paper, recording the world around her. Her dedication to painting is unwavering, and to this day, she still enjoys the creative process as much as those early childhood days. In the media, there is often a cynicism about people’s motivations in the art world, both in terms of the artists who produce and the people who buy contemporary art. However, over the last few years, the sheer amount of people who have been affected by Angela’s work, many of whom have travelled hundreds of miles to see it, shows the universal appeal of her painting.
Since Angela was first featured in Art of England magazine in 2007, there has been an increasing level of anticipation for her new work, and 2008/9 promises to exceed all expectations. With industry professionals paying an avid interest, and collectors paying thousands for her originals, there is an acceptance that her artwork represents a sound financial investment. She is a young, emerging artist with a growing national reputation; she produces work that resonates with a broad range of people, offering enduring representations of contemporary landscapes.
Her new paintings are positive, colourful and energetic depictions of a very English landscape. Angela presents a version of the urban environment stripped down to its essence, capturing the behaviour of light and employing an imaginative use of focal-point and perspective. There is a sense of movement and energy in her paintings which serves to place the viewer in the picture.
Her recent focus has been on relics of the Industrial Revolution the re-appropriation of Victorian property in urban environments. Main Street, Moor Lane and Janice’s are locations that reflect experiences of her current environment in the Ribble Valley.
Main Street is a voyeuristic overview of a winter evening in Clitheroe and the view from the castle is an impressive panoramic, offering the perfect vantage point for observing human behaviour. Interestingly, this location was painted by L.S. Lowry back in the 1950s on one of his many visits to this quaint market town.
Moor Lane is a quintessentially English terraced row of shops, independently owned, struggling to survive, each with their own individual architectural style. There is an unusual ambience created by the streetlights and shop window lighting spilling out into the street and onto parked vehicles. Janice’s is a thriving sandwich shop in Ribchester, feeding residents and also visitors to the historic Roman village.
Park Road, Bingo Hall, and Corner Shop relate to her childhood memories of Accrington. In remaining true to her roots, Angela draws upon her strengths – the familiarity and knowledge of her immediate surroundings.
Park Road is the very street where Angela grew up as a child and she knows the place intimately. Bingo Hall is a place she was taken to as a child, and represents good old-fashioned working class culture and entertainment. For the participants it is as much a social club as it is a gambling game. The setting of the bingo hall is in one of the most run-down areas of the town, with a constant stream of traffic passing through on the old trunk road.
For many, the Corner Shop represented the hub for communities of people before fierce competition from the chain stores arrived. There can be no greater symbol of the changing sociological climate of England during the 1970s, and of the changing landscape Angela grew up in during the 1980s.
In summary, Angela portrays the traditional centres of the community which bring people together or where people tend to congregate. There is also the sense that she is attempting to record the current social climate and the arguable breakdown of communities in some of our towns and villages. Contrastingly, she also provides the viewer with positive examples of private enterprise and social mobility.
In any case, whilst presenting strong images of these environments, Angela compels us to ask questions and analyse further the meaning and relevance of the work. People often preoccupy themselves with analysing the technical aspects of a painting and lose sight of its intention, effect or contextual meaning. As with any artistic genre, the resultant interpretations and reactions are completely subjective and can be hard to predict. However, there is something in Angela Wakefield’s artwork that evokes emotional responses and resonates with peoples natural instincts.
Ian Welland returns after three years to interview the brilliant urban artist Angela Wakefield and assesses her latest work, inspiration and direction….
In viewing and assessing urban artist Angela Wakefield, I can only describe her work as having total integrity. It is real, experienced and ensures there is no confusion. In many ways it fixes us to the everyday, but, in other ways, her work allows us to breathe occasionally and move the scenario from canvas to dialogue. It is this movement and the association of the realism with contextual meaning that first captured my senses fully in 2007 when I visited the artist at her studio.
So where is Angela today and, moreover, where is she heading and what continues to inspire her? Whilst assessing a batch of her latest work, I took the opportunity to speak with the artist again…Read More