The Old Town Hall featured artist Liz Ackerley

Featuring around 300 pieces this years Oldham Open is one of our most popular to date. This years entries range from intricate hand crafted wooden jewellery to paintings, sculpture and large scale models. The remarkable array of mediums, techniques and styles used demonstrates the talents and skills of local artists and craftspeople from the Borough of Oldham.

To celebrate the opening of the Oldham Open we will be featuring a number of our exhibiting artists as guest bloggers, telling us a little about themselves and their work.

The next fantastic artist to feature as a guest blogger is…

The Old Town Hall, Parliament Square, Oldham.
Liz Ackerley

Name: Liz Ackerley

Title of piece(s): The Old Town Hall, Parliament Square, Oldham

Please give a brief introduction about yourself and your work

I am an urban sketcher (known as Liz’s Scribbles) and have a particular interest in Reportage Illustration, telling stories through drawing. I am commissioned by both private and commercial clients for a variety of reportage and illustration drawing done in situ. You can check out my projects on my website. I love to capture a sense of place, occasion and emotion in my work, as things happen, in situ. As part of my visual story telling, I often include written text as narrative to my illustrational works. Most recently I have moved into a studio at Woodend Mill, Mossley

Can you tell me about the work you submitted? What was the inspiration for the piece? Is this your usual style? What techniques and materials have you used and why?

The works I submitted is part of my so-called #ThisPlace series of in situ illustrations that I have been doing throughout 2017. I have been visiting Northern towns, particularly those hill towns where the architecture of the place is set within the context of the surrounding landscape. Therefore, the

piece of Oldham is very much in keeping with that approach. I wanted to create an image that has a strong sense of place. In my work I try to capture the spirit of the place, its architecture, its colours and its feel. I have used a colour-first approach where I lay watercolour down first and then work the ink line work over the top. I often work in this way. I have been developing and evolving the technique for the energy and spontaneity it provides.

Are there any other creative mediums you would love to pursue but haven’t yet?
Until very recently, my work has been very illustrational and driven by drawing. Although I use watercolour, I use it in a particular way and not in general to create a painting. Therefore, I want to develop a greater understanding of watercolour as a painting medium. In addition, I am fascinated by collage and would like to pursue a mixed media approach in some of my work.

What does ‘being creative’ mean to you?
I think for me, it means thinking outside of the box. It means together a lot of pieces, like a jigsaw, to produce something that is familiar yet unique and interesting. This is what I want to achieve in my artworks.

Are you working on anything else at the moment?
I am most often working a lot of things in parallel. I am currently putting together selected pieces of my #ThisPlace series in the form of a 2018 calendar and Giclee prints. I am also starting to develop some of my ideas for watercolour works and planning my illustrational approaches for 2018. I am very keen on pursuing some reportage projects where I am creating illustrations to tell the big story-this means that I am working to identify projects and funding sources!

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you couldn’t make your work without?
Currently in my existing works it is my fountain pens. One in particular: the Duke Confuscious Fude 551 is currently my pen of choice, allowing a range of line thicknesses and qualities.

When you’re not busy creating what do you like doing in your spare time? Any other hobbies or interests?
There never seems to be enough time to have much spare time but I have my own allotment and like to grow food and flowers. I also like to travel and explore.

Which other artists do you admire or inspire your work? (famous or not!)
Ha that’s a challenging one as there are quite a few. I used to have Paul Klee posters on my wall as a teenager and loved the colours and the shapes. I am drawn to his handling of colour and media (he seemed to work in everything  and often combined them) as well as his skills as a draftsman. I also admire the works of several reportage artists particularly George Butler who manages to capture the life of war-ridden places in a sensitive and meaningful way, no  matter the circumstances in which he draws.

What would people be surprised to find out about you?
I have had a several different careers, starting off as a research scientist and then moving through design before reaching my illustration and art focus.

Many artists feel they could work on their pieces for ever more. How do you know when a work is finished?

I guess this is something that develops over time. At first, I more often over worked a piece but I hope I am getting better at it now. I think it’s instinctive to a degree but I also think it’s useful to have in mind what the intentions were at the beginning. Once those intentions have been realised, leave the piece alone!

And lastly, do you have any inspiring tips or words to share with everyone?

Ha, just to keep going. Especially when you feel you are hitting a brick wall. Because moving through at that point, often results in the biggest breakthroughs and developments in your work.

The Oldham Open is on until 18 November, be sure to visit to see Liz’s work and all of the other submitting artists and makers.