Derek Boak

My work is concerned with the spirit. That of place, human existence and that of the wraith. After visiting many sites of ancient stones and cairns, I have become interested in the layers of history, meaning and traces of human activity present in these places. To explore these notions I experiment with a variety of imagery and materials, layering, binding, assembling and scraping to create metaphors for feelings, remembrances,people and places. It is hoped that the viewer of the work will find their own memories and hopes reflected in the images and surfaces.

James Bartholomew

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My aim with my paintings, is to convey the mood of a landscape and the weather and light that create it. In my seascapes particularly, I want to communicate the energy and motion that make the sea such an interesting (if challenging) subject. Changing conditions and adverse weather are often the starting points for a picture – one reason why I have returned to paint on Scotland’s West coast and Islands so many times. The sea and coastline of Britain have been the main source of inspiration for some years now, with paintings of the Western Isles, Shetland, Pembrokeshire, Southern Ireland, St. Kilda and more recently Cornwall. Other collections of work include landscapes from rural France and Tuscany. The same honest, non-sentimental approach is employed, and again there is a heavy emphasis on atmosphere and ‘a sense of place’ I took my BA at Leicester Polytechnic (1992) and have since exhibited widely in solo and mixed shows including The Royal Society of Marine Artists, The Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour The Hunting Art Prizes and the Friedlander Competition. I have collected several awards including The Sir Peter Scott Award and am a member of The Manchester Academy of Fine Art. As a travel Illustrator, I have worked for the Sunday Times, The British Tourist Authority and BBC Holidays. Several paintings have been successfully auctioned by Christies and Bonhams in London and Singapore. In 2004 I was awarded the Charles Pears Award by the Royal Society of Marine Artists. I work full time from my studio and gallery in Parbold, Lancashire and travel regularly around the British Isles. My most recent work has been concentrated on the North Cornish coast and in the Lake District.

Bohuslav Barlow (Todmorden)

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Born in Moravia Czechoslovakia, he came to England in 1955 and trained at Manchester and the Central School of Art, London. He has had numerous solo exhibitions including Dryden St Gallery, Chalk Farm Gallery and Greenwich Gallery, London. Selected mixed exhibitions include the Royal Society of Painters Etchers and Engravers, the British Artists Show Chelsea, Royal Academy Summer Show, House of Commons Gallery and the Pastel Society in the Mall Galleries, London. He has exhibited in many municipal and private galleries throughout England. He also exhibits in California, USA. His work is the subject of a limited edition book entitled “Visual Alchemy” published in 1987. He is an elected member of the Manchester Academy and is listed in “Who’s Who in Art” and in the Dictionary of International Biography. He opened his own gallery in Todmorden, a small town in the South Pennines where he lives and which provides him with much of his inspiration. He has made his living from his work without having to teach for the last two decades – a fact of which he is proud.

Manchester Academy Of Fine Art 2017 Spring Exhibition.

This years MAFA exhibition will be held at the Stockport Art Gallery

From Saturday 25th February until Tuesday 11th April 2017

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Michael Ashcroft

Michael was born in Lancashire and studied art and design at Bishop Rawstorne high school. He also studied A-Level fine art and OCA portraiture at Runshaw College. He then moved on to further education at Blackburn College, doing city and guilds in life drawing. Michael’s early paintings were abstract acrylics and pastels which concentrated on the separation between light and dark before moving onto oils incorporating his early inspirations and techniques into the landscape around him. His current work is concentrated around splitting his time between studio and outdoor Painting. Using a palette knife and brush he creates a loose painterly style which is a combination of emotional and representational response to his surroundings. Larger paintings are then worked on back at the studio using the oil sketches and photographs for reference. Michael’s paintings have received many awards including finalist in the International Artist Magazine competition and also winner of the Harris Open Exhibition. His feature in the International Artist Magazine has gained him recognition around the world. This has found him many admirers of his work. Michael has had a solo exhibition each year from 2008 including a sell out show in the city of Oxford. He has recently just been elected a member of the prestigious Manchester Academy of Fine Art

Gerry Halpin MBE PMAFA

Short bio goes here.

Recent H


Studio 10, Victoria House, 29 Victoria Road, Horwich, Bolton, BL6 6NA, UK

Tele:  +44(0) 1204 692292  Email:


News From MAFA Member John Sprakes – Winner of the MAFA Travel Bursary 2015

 MAFA Member John SprakesMAFA Member John Sprakes.

” Hadrians Wall stretches approx. 35 miles from Wallsend in Newcastle to Bowness on the west. It snakes its way over some of the most dramatic landscape in England. It is the result of geological volcanic land movement causing substantial windsill. The views from each side of the Roman wall offer some exceptional visual vistas.This are has been a constant source of inspiration and the Bursary has enabled me to continue working in this area. I have been visually fascinated by the colours, textures, structures and rythms and the constantly changing moods and atmospheres.
This ancient landscape has inspired many of my recent paintings which are composed by looking down into the valley escarpments and ravines. It’s almost like viewing the scene from the air.
The movement of the shapes as they recede towards the horizon, folding upwards towards the sky, feature compositionally in many of my drawings, studies and paintings.
I have already exhibited some of the completed work in a one-man show at the Patchings Arts Centre, Nottingham. I was able to promote the work of MAFA both during the show and at two workshops/studio demonstrations.
During my stay in Northumberland I have used a converted Signal Box and Railway Carriage as a work base.
I intend to make two more visits to the location in September and March/ April next year.
This will allow me to watch the changing seasons.
The whole area is full of light and movement, the changing scale and the intense texture of the area are emotionally moving and inspiring and I hope my paintings will offer to the spectator a personal view of this remarkable landscape.
The ‘Artist Magazine’ are intending to feature a substantial article in the February edition  relating to the work produced in Northumberland.
In January 2016, some of the paintings will also be exhibited in Doncaster City Art Gallery from January to March and I will inform Members as to the date and time of the Private View. Anyone wishing to attend will be most welcome.
I will continue to keep the Academy informed as to my future progres”

“My second trip to the landscape around Hadrian’s Wall has enabled me to revisit areas and discover visually familiar elements seen during the season of autumn.
The landscape had changed, the colours, textures, patterns, light and atmosphere had deepened in mood, particularly the effect of the passages of light caused by the movement of clouds across the hills and valleys, changing the surface of the landscape.
It was a challenge trying to capture and record through drawing this visual experience.
I hope that I can translate these experiences on to canvas.
I plan to return in the spring to continue my investigation.”

MAFA President Gerry Halpin MBE talks about the MMU Graduate Awards

 Gerry Halpin MGE with Verity Howard Gerry Halpin MBE with Verity Howard

Visiting MMU on behalf of MAFA last week and viewing a superb and richly varied range of final year student Art exhibitions, was an exceptionally rewarding opportunity to begin my duties as your new President.
The work, in all areas of study was of an exceptionally high standard and congratulations must deservedly go to the teaching staff and to the enthusiasm of the students involved. It was very difficult to choose winners of this years MAFA Student Awards but with able assistance from Malcolm Taylor, our new Vice President and Dean Bland our Web Site and Friends Co-ordinator, the challenge was enjoyable and absorbing. My thanks also go to MAFA Members and MMU lecturers, Tony Ratcliffe and John Hewitt for their planning and smooth organisation of this event.
After much discussion we made a final selection and the Awards were presented to all but two of the students, the one being in America whilst the other was receiving further award in London.

Painting, drawing, soft sculpture, print making and ceramics were representative of the range of art work selected and the students themselves ranged from young people to more mature students. Each was one so very enthusiastic about their art and also very impressed by their success in being selected by MAFA for their outstanding work. It was a delight to meet them individually and to hear of their ambitions for their future, each one being thrilled to have the opportunity of taking part in our exhibitions over the next three years.
Undoubtedly, this is one of MAFAs major involvements. Students and new members are key to enriching our future exhibitions and in maintaining the perception of our importance as a vibrant, forward looking and effective Art Academy in Manchester.
As the 24th President of MAFA, I am looking forward to enjoying the support of all our members through social interaction events, a wider range of exhibition opportunities and, however possible, in attempting to re-establish the once major event in our and Manchesters cultural calendar, the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts Annual Open Exhibition.
It is a great privilege to have been elected your President and for the next two years at least I hope, with the unfailing support of both Council and Trustees, in whom I have the greatest confidence, that MAFA will continue to flourish and be respected as a prestigious membership of very fine artists.

With Kindest regards to all.

Gerry Halpin MBE

Discover more about the MMU Degree Show at

Discover more at degree courses at MMU at

Vicky Olivera MAFA MMU Graduate Award Winner 2015

 Vicky Olivera Vicky Olivera

I am a Textile artist and the overarching topic of my work is how life experiences and thoughts leave visible and invisible marks that influence our wellbeing.
The roots and origins of things and people have always interested me. My work is informed to a great extent by personal experiences, from where I reflect to propose new pieces. For example, the experience of moving from my homeland to another country was a turning point in my life, as well as my childhood memories; they all make me reflect about the past and the present. They contribute towards this reflection, generating ideas and influencing my current and future work directly and indirectly. I search for ways of making connections between those experiences and memories, translating the invisible marks that affect human wellbeing into tactile marks on the pieces I make. With each piece I intend to provoke a sense of identification and reflection by those experiencing it.
My aim is to develop my career by creating one-off pieces and site-specific installations. I am also interested in using my skills and learn new ones while working with communities.
Today I feel honoured and delighted by this distinction and would like to take the opportunity to thank M.A.F.A. for this award.
To find more about Vicky please visit her website here.

Verity Howard MAFA MMU Graduate Award Winner 2015

 Verity Howard Verity Howard

My practice explores using surface decoration techniques, such as monoprinting, and constructing form through slab building. I aim to create forms which are contemplative rather than functional.
I am fascinated by glimpses of everyday lives and activities. I am interested in capturing snapshots that convey a sense of stillness, absence of presence and being the outsider looking in. I aim to translate this interest through ceramic forms which convey the volume and depth of darkness in contrast to slithers of light emanating from window apertures.
I was very pleased to have been presented with the Ian Thompson 3D Design Award. I am very grateful for the prize money which has enabled me to secure a studio space in Hereford at Artsite3. This studio will allow me to continue developing my work and practice whilst allowing me to produce some new work for future exhibitions. My next exhibition will be at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in October. I am also very excited at being given the opportunity of exhibiting with MAFA in the future since it will be an excellent future showcase for my work. To find out more about Verity please visit her website here.

Patrick Jones MAFA MMU Graduate Award Winner 2015

 Patrick Jones Patrick Jones

My practice at present uses charcoal on paper and mono-printing. Sometimes I have installed the works so that time becomes an extra element in the works as the viewer’s eyes scan the picture surfaces from one focus to another. Being a musician as well as an artist I have seen some of my work as possible graphic scores that might be ‘read’ by a musician.

My drawing begins with direct observation or photography in my own local or domestic environment, and then I use a personal language of gestural marks often with my hand directly on the paper or inked surface.

I also have an interest in painting and film-making.

The MAFA award is very affirming for me at this later period of my life and very importantly as my present course comes to an end it gives me entry into a community of artists at a time when it is much needed.


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