Artist profile - Eric Jackson

Artist, Eric Jackson in his studio

Artist, Eric Jackson in his studio - Credit: Archant

From reporting on the inquest of Ian Curtis to editing pages for a daily newspaper, Cale Green’s Eric Jackson has done it all. But the retired journalist is now returning to his first love - art, writes Rebekka O’Grady

Artist, Eric Jackson in his studio

Artist, Eric Jackson in his studio - Credit: Archant

‘I hadn’t picked up a pencil since I was at art school,’ said Eric Jackson, from his home in the leafy Stockport suburb of Cale Green. ‘I studied in Stockport before going down to Plymouth. I then travelled and ended up cleaning pools in Ibiza before it became the party island. When I returned, I applied for a job at the Macclesfield Advertiser, and my journalism career started there. But I have always loved art, so it was something I wanted to get into again.’

The 58-year-old, who earlier this year underwent an operation which left him housebound for four months, has recently been caught up in a whirlwind of activity surrounding his tongue-in-cheek posters of Cheshire.

‘I decided to finish work before the operation in January, so that afterwards I could take the opportunity to do the things that I really wanted to do,’ explained Eric, an ex-deputy feature and arts editor at the Manchester Evening News. After leaving the newspaper eight years ago and a stint in PR, Eric then went onto work at the publishing company, Ten Alps.

‘I would have been bored after the operation if it wasn’t for writing two novels, which I’m now trying to get published. World of Wilf: Confessions of a Recovering Biter and Manchester Dogs’ Home survivor, is an illustrated novel about my dog, and Stupid June is essentially a love letter to my mother-in-law who was a wonderful woman. Once they were completed and I could walk again, I went up into the loft - which is now the ultimate artist’s garret as my studio - and began to paint.’

Inspired by travel posters of yesteryear, Eric decided to create his own versions focussing on towns and villages within the county. From poking fun at Wilmslow through to having a giggle at Warrington, Eric’s 17 colourful posters are complete with a line of text about the place and often its people.

‘It’s all tongue-in-cheek and not aimed at offending anyone,’ said Eric, who admits that when he first came up with the idea he had to tone down his slogans as some were slightly over the top. ‘I had no idea what I was going to paint and it just came to me as a brainwave to do the different Cheshire districts in a pastiche of old-style travel posters, but with a modern twist.’

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Eric is selling the work on his website as fridge magnets, greeting cards and keyrings priced at £3.50 through to A4 prints at £20. More obscure items can be bought by logging onto Fine Art America. ‘It’s brilliant what you can put my prints on. You can buy anything from a Stockport shower curtain to a Macclesfield throw cushion.’ Eric, a Manchester City fan, couldn’t resist creating a poster as a tribute to his beloved Blues. This is proving popular, as is the MUFC poster he felt obliged to create, in fairness.

As well as selling online, Eric is now a regular visitor at local markets. ‘Being a market trader is a big learning curve. You do everything from make, market, sell, deliver and accounts. I think I’ve learnt more at the markets than I did in all my years in journalism!’

Eric has no idea where the future will take him. ‘I’ve had a phenomenal response, so goodness knows where it will all lead, I haven’t got a clue. I’ve done my bit, worked myself into the ground, so I now want to take it easy. I’m 58! I don’t want a defined path; we’ll just see where it goes.’

However, there is one thing Eric is keen to get his teeth into. As well as expanding his posters into Lancashire and the Lake District, he wants to create a series of oil paintings of Cale Green: ‘No-one knows about this place, I’ve lived her for 20 years. I think I may call it ‘1500m from Home’.

‘I also fancy having an exhibition, whether it’s in the garden or at the local cricket club. My youngest daughter, Constance, 20, is studying at Central Saint Martins in London, so she can curate it for me. It will be a good project for her.’ w