Artist profile - Mark Wellburn

Painting by Oldham artist Mark Wellburn

Painting by Oldham artist Mark Wellburn - Credit: not Archant

If it hadn’t been for an horrific accident, artist Mark Wellburn might never have picked up his paint brushes

Oldham artist Mark Wellburn

Oldham artist Mark Wellburn - Credit: not Archant

When he plummeted from a roof and heard his skull crack on the concrete floor below, Mark Wellburn thought he was going to die.

He suffered multiple injuries in the accident and was plagued by nightmares for months but his brush with death led to brushes of a different kind.

Seven years on from the horrific fall, Mark has recovered well and has re-built his life – something he doesn’t think he’d have been able to do as well without painting.

‘The specialist said I would only ever recover to about 75% but I think I’m back at about 95%. I think that’s because of the art,’ Mark says.

Coal delivery by Oldham artist Mark Wellburn

Coal delivery by Oldham artist Mark Wellburn - Credit: not Archant

The accident happened on a Bank Holiday in May 2013. Mark had his own landscape and design business and had been asked by his then girlfriend’s father to do some work on his restaurant roof. He was on his knees, using a drill on the roof when it collapsed beneath him.

‘I fell about three and a half metres and landed on my head on a concrete floor,’ he says. ‘It all happened so fast but I heard my skull crack, snapped both my wrists, damaged my shoulder and it affected part of my brain. I thought I was a goner – I said to the person I was working with ‘I think I’m dying’.

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‘I’ve been through hell but when I was recovering my mum bought me some canvases. When I first started painting my work was very dark – my dad said it was all dark and dismal. I was in a pretty bad place but as I have got better everything has started to become colourful. You can definitely see my progress through my paintings. I put a lot of colour in my work now.’

Now 51, Mark creates his atmospheric paintings in the studio in the garden of his Oldham home. Often working from memory and imagination, Mark’s paintings evoke a bygone time of coal deliveries to cobbled streets in the shadow of smoking factory chimneys.

One man and his dog by Oldham artist Mark Wellburn

One man and his dog by Oldham artist Mark Wellburn - Credit: not Archant

Nostalgia is a rich seam to tap, but his work is innovative too: he is planning to apply to the Royal Academy next year with a piece created on a lump of Lancashire coal. He has family pedigree in this area - his grandfather had a coal business and his painting on slate of the coal man shows his dad bending under the weight of a sack.

Mark posts his work on his social media and is hoping to be able to stage an exhibition later this year in the café at Daisy Nook Country Park near his home. He’s also providing the artwork for the Lancaster Bombers’ first album which is due out in October.

‘The album cover shows a sunrise over Oldham with hundreds of chimneys,’ Mark says. ‘I love sun rises and sun sets. I start by painting the sky and that add other things, the buildings, the people and places I have been.’

See more of Mark’s work on his Instagram @wellb48.