A group of Wigan artists are celebrating getting their work into prestigious shows as the culture hub they are based at goes from strength to strength.
Jane Fairhurst and Steven Heaton, who both have studio space at Cross Street Arts in Standish, have had work picked for the PS Mirabel gallery’s open exhibition for 2018 in Manchester.
In addition Jane has had two canvases selected for the Beep International Painting Prize in Swansea, which had an incredible 1,500 people enter work for consideration.
The Cross Street venue is also thriving with increasing numbers of talented people finding their way to the doors and artists at the beginning of their journeys being showcased in regional exhibitions.
Jane, a trustee and founder member of the studios, will head to South Wales with Cybele and Laima, two works from an artistic series based on ancient goddesses for which no images exist any longer.
She said: “The Beep prize is a biennial event and it is getting bigger every time it is run. Only about 100 artists get chosen so it’s really nice to have two pieces in.
“It’s a real highlight on my CV. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a painter, I usually work in a whole range of media, but I started painting these goddess canvases in earnest in the middle of last year and I’m really enjoying it.
“I see it as a mature body of work I’m creating and it’s good to have that recognised by the judges of the exhibition, who are people I regard pretty highly.
“I’ve also got a painting and a mixed media piece in the PS Mirabel exhibition. The painting is from the goddesses series but there’s also something from another line of work where I put objects inside glass domes so they are like mini-museums.”
Jane says one of the biggest handicaps artists from somewhere like Wigan face is getting to major cities to connect with the big national and international culture scenes.
She said: “I’ve exhibited in London before but it’s very hard to get out of your own environment. I’ve been around the North West and Yorkshire but then extending beyond that to other parts of the country is difficult.
“It’s really good to push the boat out and in Swansea I’m going to be meeting a lot of artists and making connections.”
Steve, who is originally from Abram, is delighted to also be showing his work in Manchester at the Twice As Nice show at the artist-run exhibition space.
He is also being introduced to more of the region’s arts community after being picked for a monthly showcase feature by a culture magazine and website.
Steven said: “It’s nice to be involved in the show at the PS Mirabel. I exhibited in a show there a few years ago so it’s nice to be back.
“I’ve got two pieces in the show, called Natural Rhythm and Hymn Towards Light. My work is based around memory and the association and impact colours can have on how we remember places.
“There’s a lot of geometric abstraction in my work and these two pieces in particular come from the covers of old books which had been damaged and lost, with me intepreting the titles and giving them a new life.
“I’ve also got the Manc of the Month feature for a group called CottonOn Manchester. They publicise exhibitions at smaller galleries all around the city, because it can be very difficult to know what’s going on other than at the massive art venues.
“They’ve published a lot of images of my work and done a little interview. It raises my profile and it’s nice to be recognised. I’ve got about 10 exhibitions back to back so I’m incredibly busy.”
Cross Street Arts is also helping those who CVs are yet to hit the heights of the likes of Jane and Steven, with around 50 artists now associated with the venue running the gamut from comparative newcomers to established names.
Jane says by working together the place is bringing a huge amount of success to Wigan talent.
She said: “We’ve got more than half a dozen members showing work at the West Lancs Open in Ormskirk.
“It’s doing really well. When I go into Manchester people say Cross Street artists are exhibiting everywhere. We are a little bit out in the sticks here but people are making the effort to come and see us. We’re going from strength to strength. We’ve also had a visit from Wigan Council’s economic development team and it’s good they are recognising what an asset they have in Standish.
“We did an open studio in collaboration with the Christmas market last December and so many people told us they didn’t know it was here.
“People always say there’s a friendly atmosphere. There’s no rivalry here, we collaborate on a lot of things and are really encouraging with one another.
“We’ve got new artists just beginning their careers and older artists as well.”
The PS Mirabel 2017 Open Exhibition Twice As Nice runs until August 11.
For more information about the venue visit crossstreetarts.com