Liam Spencer's Painting From Life: Twenty Years and Counting at the Salford Gallery

By Ben Miller | 28 February 2011
An image of an oil painting of a darkened urban landscape at night
Liam Spencer, Chapel Street at Night
Exhibition: Liam Spencer – Painting From Life: Twenty Years and Counting, Salford Museum and Art Gallery, March 26 – July 3 2011

When a BBC documentary showed visitors clamouring to buy Liam Spencer’s shimmering urban landscapes in 2006, the Burnley artist gave a typically Lancastrian assessment of his creative beginnings.

“I became an artist by a process of eliminating all the things I didn’t want to do,” he admitted. “And the things I did want to do but couldn’t – being a North American Indian in Burnley, a footballer or a full-time fisherman.”

His fans were snapping up portraits of their own stomping ground – a hugely popular figure in the North-West, Spencer has given new light to the Rochdale and Manchester areas by picturing familiar haunts through loosely identifiable brush strokes.

They look sketchy, but a step back turns these apparently abstract works into familiar scenes of the mills and quays he takes his inspiration from.

Five years ago Spencer moved his studio to the Rossendale Valley, so the Pennines have become as much of a focus for his work as the bursts of rain he’s usually obliged to commit to canvass.

New York, China, Turkey and Italy have also caught his eye on his travels, but his domestic dalliances still lie at the heart of this homage to England.
  • Open Tuesday-Friday 10am-4.45pm (8pm Wednesday). Admission free.
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