Local artists draw inspiration from Lancastrian landscape

Michael Howley's 'Sunset over Pendle'
Michael Howley's 'Sunset over Pendle'

Inspired by the local landscapes, the area’s industrial heritage, and their experimental outlook on artistic pursuit, two northern artists and a poet have opened an art studio and gallery in Soughbridge Mill.

Artists Michael Howley and Jacqueline Smith are working out of the establishment in Sough, near Kelbrook to the north east of Burnley, to create Soulspace - their very own bespoke art studio-cum-gallery where people can view the intricate work-in-progress of the resident artists as well as nurturing their own creativity through a series of weekly art workshops catering for all abilities.

From landscape pieces through to more speculative abstracts, Michael’s paintings have been described as ‘atmospheric’, and contrast starkly with Jacqueline’s more candidly colourful and lively textile pieces as the gallery showcases a wide range of artistic expression and innovation.

“It is easy to feel inspired in this light, spacious and well-resourced mill studio, with its open views across the beautiful surrounding landscape,” said a spokesperson for the Soulspace studio and gallery.

Born in Burnley, Lancashire in 1964, Michael became a professional artist in 1987, having trained at the esteemed Lincolnshire College of Art in Lincoln, and has taught Art and Design at Nelson and Colne College for 12 years, as well as working at St Marys College in Blackburn.

As well as artists Michael and Jacqueline, the poet Jo Lewis is also working out of the creative space, contributing ‘haunting poetry and evocative photography’ to the trio’s artistic endeavors, with a series of her stanzas featuring in a number of the studio’s pieces of artwork.

Beyond the bucolic nature of the Lancastrian countryside, the artists were first attracted to the mill by the growing number of creative industries in the area, including Studio 22B, Salvage Times, Carella Soft Furnishings, and Kelbrook Classic Cars - an old-school wooden toymaker and a VW Campervan refurbisher.

The Weekly Art Workshops are run by Michael Howley himself, and take place on Thursdays, with a choice of morning, afternoon or evening sessions, with full details available on his own website at www.michaelhowleyartist.co.uk.

The studio itself is open to all visitors from 12.30pm to 4.30pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, as well as most Saturdays, though it is advised to call the studio ahead of time if making a special journey.