Artist of the week: Manchester uni lecturer reveals philosophy… if everything in world seems wrong, paint!

By Tom Paterson

Most people approaching their seventh decade would consider beginning to wind down their work commitments and look forward to a more leisurely pace of life.

However one Manchester contemporary artist shows no sign of slowing down just yet.

Stephen Riley, 59, was born in Kent but grew up in Tameside and is now based in his studio in Woodend Mill in Mossley.

After a short period working as an engineer he switched to his true calling of fine art which he studied as a mature student.

Stephen explained that since he was a young boy he harboured ambitions to indulge his passion for all things artistic.

He said: “It’s something that goes back to my childhood and it was the only thing I really wanted to do. From the moment you look at the world you think, how would I fit into this?

“I looked around and everything else just seemed wrong and what made sense to me was to paint.”

Stephen has gone on to showcase exhibitions across the country and he also has collections in continental Europe and the USA and puts his success down to persistence.

He added: “Most students graduate with a BA Honours degree in Fine Art and then find it almost impossible to continue working.

“You’ve got to get a studio and you’ve got to somehow support yourself in order to make it work but it is very difficult to do that,” he said.

Of all his achievements though, Stephen felt that the path he went on to become an artist was his crowning glory.

“What you have to do is continue in the face of adversity as each time you go through a pain barrier you surmount to something and you get over that barrier and you go to a place where you never could have imagined going to and it comes down to that same thing, persistence.”

Not content with merely being an accomplished artist, specialising in contemporary fine art and abstract paintings, he is also a published author and an associate lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Stephen finds great satisfaction through his own work and shaping the minds of the next generation of aspiring artists.

He said: “I’ve done it for a long time and it’s something I very much enjoy doing.

Each time I come out of the studio having done something I feel is worthwhile, I feel really good.

“The same thing happens with a lecture that’s gone really well when I feel like the students have made some progress on the day.

“That feels good too but those two things are very difficult to separate in terms of how much pleasure they give me.”

For more information about Stephen and his work click here

Pictures courtesy of Stephen Riley, with thanks

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