Neil Mawdsley Artist Profile OK.. so I'm quite old now...but I didn't used to be! The odd thing is, I like loads of stuff youngsters like ie pop concerts, techno stuff.. In Sept 2015 I was lucky enough to see the Banksy Dismaland exhibition in Weston -Super- Mare. It was raw, thought provoking, cutting edge art at its best. Perhaps I have some of this angry artist in me, coming out over the years in more thought provoking work. Yet most of my paintings are traditional, searching for beauty, majesty and a positive feeling to life. Early Days I was born in Oldham, Lancashire at the end of the Second- World- War. We lived in a small gloomy end terraced house in the shadow of a large cotton mill (Marsland Mill). Outside my front door were cobbled stones and every morning the mill hooter would boom out, the clackaty-clack of the 40,000 spindles would start up , and the sound of clogs echo everywhere, as droves of people, threaded past my bedroom window, to start another days work. We would often leave our front door unlocked and nothing was ever stolen. Later, as the cotton industry declined, the mills became derelict.The empty streets were full of children playing. My mother worked in a cotton mill for a while, and my father was a foundry foreman, patternmaker and engineer for Platt Bros., a large textile engineering firm, but he later worked in aircraft engineering at Avro’s. His hobby was pyrotechnics and I used to help him make his home made fireworks in the kitchen, mixing up concoctions for stars, bangers, pin-wheels and rockets so that on bonfire night all the neighbours would see a wonderful display. I had loads of cousins, aunt's, uncles, all living within a ten minute walk. To entertain ourselves as children we used to 'play out' from dawn till dusk. It was rather a safer place than it is now as everybody knew each other and hardly any cars. I was a shy child, I struggled with asthma and disliked school apart from the sport. I remember the hot summer of 1963 when I walked down to the corner of the street to watch the Oldham Carnival Parade go past. One of the floats stopped by me with four young rather shy, young men dressed in suites. I managed to get their autographs. I think I swopped the autographs later for some comics or stamps. The young men were the Beatles just starting out! I enjoyed sport and played cricket for Werneth Cricket Clubs’ Second Eleven for a time as a teenager. Some great international players came to the club. ( see ticket I kept) I did not like school. My Secondary Modern Headteacher was sacked for fiddling exam results, but I still managed to transfer to a Grammar School sixth form to pass my A levels. I trained as a schoolteacher at St Martins College, Lancaster, which was new then, created by the brilliant Educationalist Huw Pollard. Later on our family moved to Plymouth, Devon around 35 years ago after teaching in Lancaster and Morecambe where I worked in the classroom next to Jim Bowen of ‘Bullseye’ fame who helped me write a teaching CV once, although I did not get the job. He was always good for a laugh or a night out. In 1997 The Sunday Independent newspaper placed me as 'one of the six leading painters in Plymouth', not my words but you know what papers are like. Plymouth has in fact many, many artists, and still seems to attract them, although you wouldn't think so, the city seems to sideline the local arts, perhaps this is now changing? I do now have a deeper confidence in my own artwork. I have never pushed my image forward. I have kept my work to local galleries. I value my family and the balance of time we all need with each other to survive this present hectic world. I work via commissions mainly now with the odd exhibition. (Presenting a painting to BBC Spotlight Presenter Carole Madge in 2014 at the College of Further Education)) I have always enjoyed painting and drawing. I think I turned to it more when my school-teaching became more stressful. For a while I was involved with St Budeaux Parish Church, producing their magazine and much more. It was good to meet such genuine people and even started up a Devon-wide ‘Christian ArtSpaces’ group with performances and exhibitions. I learned much from local Plymouth art groups as well and the tutors. Also an artist friends such as Ray Schofield in Morecambe. I was chairman of Plymouth Arts Club for a while in the nineties. I like to paint landscapes and seascapes and find the areas around Plymouth and North Cornwall inspirational. That said, I experiment endlessly with many types of media and techniques. After many years of experimentation my paintings are now more in demand but my output is slower and my style has changed. I paint more in mixed media, especially acrylics which I find matches more accurately my way of thinking. At the moment I like to work with a palette knife on canvas. I still love watercolour painting, but struggle with the mindset of logical progression which is often essential. As an artist I have often tried to create eye catching beauty as this is what often sells, but at times I have also been moved to paint deeper subjects that have a social or environmental message. These paintings come under the heading of Issues or my Diary. Art should sometimes be more than just decorative. Photo: Prysten House Painting for U.S. Navy In Jan 2013 I was one of the winners of an art competion showing work in Debenhams, Plymouth and in May selected for the Civic Centre Council House Plymouth Professional Artists exhibition. In June I was part of a group of artists creating brass plaques for the sculpture on Saltash Waterfront. Also in 2019 I exhibited work at Karensa Gallery, Padstow. I now exhibit with ‘Drawn To The Valley’ group of artists, also various galleries and of course the paintings on this website. See my gallery page After teaching watercolours for many years at various local colleges and privately, I decided to retire from teaching completely to concentrate on my painting. My last two classes are still running well, with leadership from within the groups at the Ashtorre Centre, Saltash and at St Budeaux Library. Likewise my demonstrations to South-West art groups has also finished as I concentrate on my own work. I am now developing step-by-step watercolour worksheets for the Internet on Etsy. Some years ago I became interested in shipwrecks and created an illustrated poster: Shipwrecks of Plymouth Sound. Shipwrecks around Looe and Polperro was my second poster and took me over two years to complete, with loads of research involved. I could rattle on for longer, but you have probably had enough by now. 2020 and 2021 has been a crazy year with the worldwide pandemic. I have been working on ‘Lockdown Paintings’ in this dark time. We all hope for better days to come.
Soot picture 10yrs.
Tutoring watercolours to BBC presenter Charlotte Smith in 2012! Poster paint on sugar paper Prysten House Pastel by Neil Mawdsley