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Chris Cyprus at Woodend Mill, Mossley.

May 11, 2015

A couple of weeks ago now, we got out of the house and explored a part of the outskirts of Manchester that we had not been to previously. Meeting up with a friend who’s recently moved to Greenfields, we ambled along the canal side to Mossley. As you can see, it was a beautiful sunny day.

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I liked the two different arches here, the bridge and the land, one resting upon the other.

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Fortunately you can walk for miles along the canal side, whilst you admire the slowly changing scenery.

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At Woodend Mill, there was an open day, where a lot of the artists who work there, open their studio’s up to the public. Some are tucked away up in the rafters ! The mill has about 5 floors so it’s a pretty big place to walk around, although sadly not all of the studios were open.

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My favourite artist, who has a large studio space is Chris Cyprus.

Born in Gorton, Manchester in 1971, Chris then spent his early years growing up in Stockport. When he returned to his roots as an aspiring musician in his twenties to play at Bakers Vaults, Chris’s memories of being a young lad resurfaced: like “…being pushed along the cobbled streets while staring up in wonder at gigantic mill buildings.”

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Chris says “I now live in Mossley, Lancashire, at the foothills of the Pennines. While it feels completely different to the place of my childhood, it is the enduring community ties blended with my memories that inspire how I depict Northern Life.”

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A few years ago, Chris sought out his own allotment, when he saw in it, a different way of life. “It’s that sense of community you get in the Pennines, in the little surrounding villages. It’s that sense of belonging. The chit-chat in the chip shop and the passing conversation on the street market.”

To a large extent, all of Chris’s work is inspired by his view of northern life, though it is wider than that. It’s about capturing the way things were, when people looked out for each other, when everyday life brought people together.

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For me there is also a Beryl Cook side to Chris’s paintings. A humour in the work and that feeling of capturing a fleeting snapshot of the life that’s going on around us, or in some cases, that is sometimes passing us by.

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There are still elements of the big city amongst Chris’s work, like this one above from 2014 depicting Sinclair’s Oyster Bar in Manchester’s Shambles Square. From the city to the mills, there’s always that sense of community and life happening around you.

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I like these still life paintings depicting both inside and outside of the potting shed. His hazy sunlight and long shadows suggest the end to a hard day’s work on the allotment, or in Chris’s case at the easel !

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More about Chris in this video and on his site. Many thanks to Chris for sharing his words and work with us today.

Phew, a grand day out Gromit ! With all that walking, even the dog had to find a sunny spot and have a lie down afterwards !!

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