A Wigan business has paid tribute to a beloved local artist by having his work built into the walls of its new office.
Directors at Regan and Hallworth estate agents have decorated their office with the artwork of Gerald Rickards, who very first painted for them more than two decades ago.
When the company initially opened 23 years ago, Mr Rickards - who lived in Billinge at the time - was commissioned to do some paintings to brighten up the office space.
He continued to do pieces for the company until his death in 2006.
During a move to Library Street in the town centre last month, Regan and Hallworth owners decided to use the opportunity to make the artist’s work a more permanent feature.
Andy Herterich, director at the company, said: “He did two paintings in his style with our office on.
“We also had another 15 or so prints of his that we put up in the office and some stained glass. When we moved office about a year ago we wanted to keep the Rickards artwork as a theme.
“After that we also had some specially made stained glass windows made in the style of his artwork that was installed in the bay windows of the new office.”
In an unlikely twist of fate, the company was contacted by Mr Rickards’ daughter, Sue, who was looking to sell her dad’s old house.
“We told her what we had done with her father’s artwork and invited her to come to the office,” said Andy.
“Sue loved the new office and was really glad that all of the pictures were central to the new office design.
“Mr Rickards’ house will be going onto the market soon too. Sue grew up there so it had been in the family for years. Her dad drew a huge mural on the staircase which he added to over the years.”
Mr Rickards spent a lot of his professional career as a teacher at Winstanley College.
After interest in his artwork grew and grew, he decided to take a leap of faith and become a full-time artist, making money from selling his art and creating commissioned pieces.
Throughout his career, Mr Rickards was very successful, working with Wigan Council and even doing work at Cambridge University.
One of his most notable fans was Ian McKellen, who bought a piece of art for his sister. In 2004 the actor visited Wigan and Leigh Hospice to unveil a mural created by Mr Rickards which depicts sites of historical and social interest across the town.
The mural includes an image of Gandalf, famously portrayed by McKellen in the Lord of the Rings franchise.
The artist loaned his paintings for display on the walls of the Kildare Street hospice and following his death his widow, Mildred donated all of them.
The couple were dedicated supporters of the hospice – Mr Rickard also designed the beautiful mural in the hospice chapel – and regularly designed and promoted a ‘picture’ type quiz to help raise funds.