Artist profile - Gosha Gibek

Clitheroe Town, the picture which won the Ribble Valley award

Clitheroe Town, the picture which won the Ribble Valley award - Credit: Archant

A rare condition helps Ribble Valley artist Gosha Gibek create work with extraordinarily vibrant colour combinations. She spoke to Barbara Waite.

Gosha Gibek

Gosha Gibek - Credit: Archant

It’s a grey Lancashire day with a light drizzle in the air. Not the most promising, you might think, for Gosha Gibek, a Ribble Valley artist whose work is based on colour. But you would be wrong.

She has a rare condition called synaesthesia, where the sensation in one of the senses, such as hearing, triggers a sensation in another, such as taste. For example, some people with synaesthesia can taste numbers or words or, like Gosha, hear colours. ‘I paint with all my senses. I hear music, voices of crowds, the beeping of cars and the birds screeching. It all comes alive,’ said Gosha who was born in Poland.

‘I am like a miner – uncovering hidden colours in the world around me, buried under the grey coats of a Lancashire winter. Attributing new colours to obvious shapes is what excites me.’

From childhood, she always wanted to be an artist. She got her first set of oil paints when she was 12 and used them to win a school competition. Gosha went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poland, painting under the direction of Jozef Halas, a renowned colourist.

Sun bursting through King Street

Sun bursting through King Street - Credit: Archant

‘His teaching was simple - to seek colours in everything. I can still see his shaking head. “No, no!” he would say in dismay. “This is not a colour, it just looks like soap!”’

Even today Gosha still feels it is her duty as an artist, as it was in those early formative days, to find colours. ‘Now, I can find them even in the grimmest of places. It’s as if I free them from under a coat of Lancashire weather. Whenever, wherever I look, I need to seek and save the colours. I want to capture them and keep forever on my canvas, so they will never escape.’

She left Poland aged 25 and hitchhiked around Europe, stopping in Spain for three years before finally settling in Clitheroe where she and her son, Christopher, found their home. But it wasn’t love at first sight.

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‘I arrived in Clitheroe nearly 13 years ago on a cold, wet February day. It was hard to get used to the weather at first - the difference in light, colour and temperature was such a contrast. But that soon changed. The spring brought sunshine and with the fresh rays of light I started to discover the beauty of Lancashire.

A wintry street scene

A wintry street scene - Credit: Archant

‘What impressed me the most was how well history is preserved in the cute villages with their stone-built houses, slated roofs, the abbey ruins in Sawley and Whalley, flower gardens in Waddington, the magnificent Stonyhurst College in Hurst Green and the frozen-in-time village of Downham.

‘Hidden bridges spread across the rivers with the ducks and pebbles, the dry stone walls dividing green fields, the sheep and the sky amazingly changing its colours - pink and violet fighting against blue and raging with purple! I was in my element.

‘My favourite place is the top of Pendle Hill - so eerie and spooky, with its heavy clouds hanging above it like a spaceship, dense in dark blue hues. There is a secret energy about that place - it must be those witches!’

All her paintings start with a careful drawing. She adds inks to acrylic paint to achieve her very strong hues and completes the painting using enamel or gloss paint, poured directly from a palette knife or from a stick.

Clitheroe Castle

Clitheroe Castle - Credit: Archant

‘I don’t like using black – the only allowance for its existence is line. Once I start with the line, it carries on and on, tangles up and around the shapes, from thin to bold, it defines each shape. I follow those lines, the outlines of shapes, touching and feeling the texture,’ Gosha added.

Last year her painting ‘Clitheroe-Town’ won the Ribble Valley Prize but she feels an even bigger achievement was taking third place in the recent Create Longridge competition. To see more of her work visit Longridge Gallery, her studio in Clitheroe where she runs workshops, or until November 25, at an exhibition at the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe.

‘I want people to keep colourful memories and show the real beauty of Lancashire which to me is as exciting as the great capitals of the world. When I hear people say my art makes them feel happy, then I know my painting turned out well. Then I feel complete.’

Prices start from £250 and there is also an option to order high quality prints on canvas which she individually enhances with enamel. Her website is