Artist of the Month - Cliff Murphy, Oldham

Honeywell Lane, Cliff Murphy

Honeywell Lane, Cliff Murphy - Credit: Archant

Cliff Murphy captures Oldham’s recent past in his evocative paintings, writes Barbara Waite

The spirit of a bygone age is captured for posterity in Oldham-born artist Cliff Murphy’s atmospheric paintings. He has vivid memories of his childhood in the 40s and 50s and draws on them in this evocation of a time when the cotton mills were thriving and there was a great sense of community.

‘Life was hard in those days, but it had a simplicity which is missing today,’ said Cliff. ‘I like to record familiar places - ordinary and extraordinary - before progress sweeps them away. Trips abroad are inspirational, but my subject matter usually celebrates home ground.’ Honeywell Lane the acrylic featured here was the focal point of the tight-knit working class area where people socialised and enduring friendships were created. Cliff’s figurative style captures the pub, off-licence and barber’s which have now become other businesses. Happily, Nelly’s Chippy remains.

‘I can’t claim that my work is cutting edge - perhaps it’s more trailing edge. My style is figurative, but not too tight,’ added Cliff.

His original paintings and limited edition prints hang in public and private collections, and have won prizes. Two have been bought by Gallery Oldham for the town’s permanent collection: The Beautiful Game – featuring amateur football with Boundary Park in the background and Mumps Bridge – the recently demolished landmark.

He had an oil painting selected this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and another landscape featured in a building society calendar. Another work was bopught as an 83rd birthday gift for the comedian Eric Sykes.

Framed prints are available from about £80 with original paintings about £500 - depending on size and content.