Six Miles South of Manchester: Stockport heritage celebrated in prestigious London art exhibition

By Matt Simpson

Stockport’s iconic industrial landmarks are taking centre stage in a major London art exhibition.

Helen Clapcott’s work is currently on display at Osborne Samuel in the heart of London’s Mayfair district and is proving popular among southern art lovers.

The Cheshire-based artist used old sights including the Kings Mill at Brinksway and the River Mersey as inspiration for her collection Six Miles South of Manchester.

Showcasing Stockport’s urban landscape, both past and present, is something that Helen is truly passionate about.

“It is important to showcase the town, as I think Stockport is being demolished,” she said. “It originally was a mill town with mills and industry all along the river.

 “There were some fantastic landmarks, but now the mills have gone and the river is covered over. It has changed massively since I moved there.

“It’s got some wonderful assets and things to see, for example the viaduct, the river and even the motorway. Some of these landmarks have definitely been inspiration for me.”

Born in Blackpool in 1952, Helen moved to Stockport when she was ten and has used an ancient technique, called egg tempera, to paint for more than 30 years.

Egg tempera is a painting medium formed of coloured pigment and an egg yolk, and evidence of its use goes back as far as the ancient Egyptians.

Helen, now living in Macclesfield, studied art at Liverpool and the Royal Academy Schools in London, but this is the first time her art has featured at such a prestigious gallery.

“It has never been displayed anywhere as prestigious as this,” she added. “It is very nice to have the confidence of a gallery like that.

“It is nice to have a bit of a profile. My work has got integrity and honesty which is important in painting.

“It is good to have that appreciated and recognised. The London Gallery has been brilliant and it has been really supportive.”

Gordon Samuel, one of Osborne Samuel’s two owners, first saw Helen’s work more than ten years ago, and introduced it to London at his old gallery, Scolar Fine Art.

The exhibition has been well received and Mr Samuel confirmed four pieces have already been sold as people are looking for their own slice of disappearing Northern heritage.

“The exhibition covers the three main rooms in the gallery. It looks absolutely amazing and she is getting a very good reception,” he said.

“People are looking at them and seeing somewhere like Stockport as the microcosm for a lot of other cities in the United Kingdom where heritage is being knocked down.

“I don’t think she is making any political statements, I think she is just interested in recording the changes that have taken place in Stockport.”

Naturally, people are comparing Helen’s paintings to the work of another famous North West artist, LS Lowry, but Mr Samuel believes they could not be wrong.

“People will compare it Lowry, you can’t help but do that,” he added. “The only thing they have in common is that they both come from the north.

“It is completely different in style and now you’ve got somebody who is becoming more known with a fantastic ability to paint a similar subject.

“I think they are great value for money.”

Six Miles South of Manchester opened on February 7 at the gallery and will run until March 2.

To view the virtual catalogue click here

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Picture courtesy of Helen Clapcott, with thanks

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