On March 17th, just as the pandemic impact was starting to be felt, a new exhibition opened at the market hall gallery featuring views of Ashton by artist Liz Ackerley. The About Ashton exhibition showcases images featuring inside the Market Hall and surrounding areas. We spoke to Liz, from Mossley, to find out how her artistic career began.
“I have a fairly varied background and I jumped from scientific research which I started after leaving school, but my art career started through my work in design. I was involved in landscape design, landscape architecture and garden design which is where it developed from. That interest began in 1999 and about 8 or 9 years ago I started drawing when I was living in Salford. I was close to where one of the streets was used for the first series of Peter Kay’s Car Share comedy but at the time, I didn’t know about that and it was that street where I started to draw. Ever since then I started drawing regularly and using watercolour. At first, I did the traditional pen and ink which I would watercolour over but now my work is pretty non traditional. I put the watercolour down first and then the line work over the top.”
How do you select the subjects for your work?
“My whole drive in whatever media I’m using is always about places. Places are things that fascinate me and being able to capture that – either literally or in an abstract way in the painting and the drawing is what interests me. So, it becomes things about streetscapes, things about mills and landscapes so it is all of that. It’s like trying to describe a place and defining what makes that place unique and show that in my work. So that’s why in the Ashton series I have watercolour illustrations and the collages about the streets in Ashton or the market place. So those collages pieces are about the Ashton market. The other four which are less representational is about mills, so it all comes together to tell a story about the place. All the pieces stand out for their own reasons – for example I find the old library building is really a stunning building, although tricky to draw, I just love all the detail and the metalwork around it, shapes of the windows it’s all of that which fascinates me. “
How did the exhibition in the Market Hall come about?
“A lot of my illustration work is commissioned work with me creating paintings and I also draw at weddings; I’ve done pieces about Peterloo last year so I’m drawing people as well as the place. I’d been people drawing a lot in the Market Place just to practice those and I started talking to the Market’s Manager which led to me speaking with the galleries people. So, they told me they were starting this exhibition space in the Market Hall and I said I was really interested and that lead to the exhibition. I said I’d like it to be all about Ashton so that’s how it developed really. I’m also working on another exhibition for Oldham Art Gallery that will be about nature and as the season’s change I’ve been working on that project too.”
What tips would you give people considering taking up art during their isolation at home?
“My main advice for those that want to start creating art is keeping it fairly simple because it can be overwhelming when you look at what others are doing online. Get a pencil and a small notebook, or any paper you can find, and use it to doodle really. Keep it small and about things around you that maybe inspire you at home or out of the window.
At this time of year, I’d usually be teaching at my studio but I’m now doing a lot of YouTube videos for people to watch and learn from. So, it is almost an opportunity to draw along with tips and demonstrating every week to share online to encourage others to try their hand. “
Thanks to Liz for taking time to speak to About Tameside. The Ashton Gallery exhibits are available to buy – you can find out about more Liz by visiting lizsscribbles.com, on Facebook at Liz Ackerley Art, on Instagram at lizackerley1, on Twitter at lizackerleyart or email firstname.lastname@example.org