Hello I’m Nan and I’m an artist who is painting and drawing at my home studio on the outskirts of Greater Manchester and on various project residency studios around Manchester. I’m also printmaker at Salford’s Hotbed Press and alumni of the Islington Mill Art Academy, the free peer led art school in Salford. I have recently been the recipient of a CVAN Bursary for my project with 6 other artists at Victoria Baths this year and I am developing a side project, IG @resident_art_projects that I hope will give me and my peers opportunities to show work in different venues and locations.
I started a full time studio practice in 2016 during a nine month spell living in Queensland, Australia; it was here I decided to re-commit to a path I first chose in the early 90’s when I made my first portfolio of work to apply for a Foundation in Art and Design at Stockport College, despite not having the pre-requisite A-level in Art.
After this I started working as an assistant in an advertising firm, booking space and co-ordinating artwork for ads, which led onto a career working in Manchester agencies, later specialising in communications for the arts and culture sector as Fido PR with my long-time creative collaborator Laura Sullivan. This life involved working alongside brilliant creatives, commercial artists and designers; I would be creating visual campaigns, branding projects, copywriting and media relations and winning awards for it too, and I loved it, I felt like I was being creative; but it was for other people and to someone else’s brief.
After 25 years doing this with little time or headspace for a creative life outside of that, I wanted a change and now with a family, we decided to move to Australia and to stop for a while. I think the expansiveness of Australia and having time, led me back to drawing and painting and I began to study other artists work – there is a fantastic appetite for art in Australia, it’s part of the country’s social fabric and it is well supported and accessible. I found a community of artists living on the Sunshine Coast, some of whom I am still in friends with and who have encouraged me from the start, who helped me and I started painting every day to learn how to paint (I am still learning). An important moment for me was seeing an exhibition in Sydney of Warhol’s early work – the transition between his commercial drawings and his artistic career which gave me my first inkling that I would love to make this my career.
In September 2017 we returned to the UK and I decided to continue down the self directed learning path and not going back to formal education felt right to me, instead I wanted to create my own learning curriculum, so I signed up for the first year of a printmaking course at Hotbed Press in Salford. It was then I entered and got selected into the Waterside Open (pictured). It was also about this time I found the Islington Mill Art Academy, which was then an informal group of artists who would come together to do crits and support one another. Later in 2018 there came the opportunity to join the first cohort of Islington Mill Art Academy’s peer learning programme, in which we organised our own curriculum, residencies and exhibitions – a full on year which ended in November 2019. I’ve learned so much from this intensive year working with artists from lots of different disciplines and ages has been the most incredible experience and I’m ready for the next chapter.