Artist profile - Claire Riley

Ancoats towards Piccadilly - Claire Riley

Ancoats towards Piccadilly - Claire Riley - Credit: Archant

Claire Riley combines urban landscapes and new technology to create striking pictures. Barbara Waite reports

Claire Riley was inspired by David Hockney

Claire Riley was inspired by David Hockney - Credit: Archant

Claire Riley’s artwork bears witness to modern life and she hopes to inspire people to take a second look at what is happening in our urban spaces.

Brought up in Manchester, her Lancashire roots are fundamental to her way of seeing. Although she enjoys her countryside breaks in the Trough of Bowland and the county’s moorland, it’s the city which drives her work.

‘I have lived in various places throughout my adult life including more rural spots on far flung edges of Wigan, Bolton and Oldham, but much of my work is focused on cityscapes,’ says Claire, who mixes the traditional with a very modern way of working.

‘I seek out areas where there is a contrast of old and new and in my own way I’m trying to preserve the rich history of our Lancashire urban landscapes and maybe bring to life in visual form our fantastic old buildings.’

Gerrard Winstanley House in Wigan - Claire Riley

Gerrard Winstanley House in Wigan - Claire Riley - Credit: Archant

At one time, she worked from an office in a tower block in Gorton and was fascinated by the ever-changing dusks and dawns over the Manchester skyline. ‘You get to see a melancholy and often bleached view of the world at night and I started trying to capture that emotion in some of my work.

‘The way I see the world is influenced by this as well as living and working from a high rise where I get to see city life and skylines and the Lancashire hills beyond.’

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She studied Fine Art, and her style has changed through use of different media working on textile design projects and sculpture. But in recording the sense of place she seems to have found a purpose and has developed her own techniques to capture it.

Claire works as an evening emergency duty social worker taking her into many unusual settings which often feed into her work. As a part-time artist over the years she has been involved in a range of projects using different media but her recent phase using digital media was inspired by David Hockney’s iPad works.

London Road Fire Station in Manchester - Claire Riley

London Road Fire Station in Manchester - Claire Riley - Credit: Archant

‘From the outset, I felt that I was harnessing a digital paintbrush rather than engaging in photo manipulation. I realised quite early on, however, that I needed to import these images to work on them further using Photoshop.

‘I have also moved back into a traditional way of working by creating painted versions of the digitally created pictures. Learning how to create light in a different way using pigments can be challenging.’

She sells her digital work in the form of limited edition print runs using lightfast inks on high quality cotton rag paper. Prices range from around £650 for one-off commissioned art work either painted or digitally produced, limited editions of ten are £250 and posters £55.

There will be a small showing of Claire’s work on the opening night of ‘Seven Bro7hers’ beerhouse in Manchester’s Blossom Street from Thursday, April 26 and through the weekend. You can see more of her work at