About Us

Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, MAFA, was created in 1858. Today it has a membership of over 110 diverse and talented artists. Our painters, sculptors and printmakers represent the best in fine art across the region.

The Manchester Academy of Fine Arts links to Manchester go back to 1858 when James Astbury Hammersley, who was head of the Manchester School of Art, took part in the formation of the Manchester Academy. He was elected it’s first President on the 28th May 1858.
Since then many of its members such as Alfred Waterhouse went on to designManchester Town hall and many other public buildings in the city. Academy member Ford Maddox Brown spent the the latter years of his life painting the twelve works known as the Manchester Murals depicting Mancunian history commissioned for Manchester Town Hall by theCity Council.
Its members designed the University, and also created public sculptures throughout the city.
There have been many renowned artists amongst its members including L. S. Lowry who was a member for over 40 years. Today MAFA remains committed to promoting fine art to the people of the North West through exhibitions and education.
In recent years we have introduced Associate Membership, from which eligible artists can progress to full Academician. Professional practising artists are elected by their peers in recognition of the quality of their work which demonstrates a wide range of approaches, techniques and styles. They all share a passion for art and members work in the belief that the arts can help reflect, record and shape the world we live in as have previous members of our Academy.
In the 21st Century the arts still enrich our lives, as practitioners or consumers. Our development of Friends of MAFA is aimed at keeping those who have an enthusiasm for visiting our exhibitions, for collecting the work of our artists and supporting the galleries who provide us with exhibition space, informed.
Our exhibitions feature new and existing artwork by MAFA members. Private views, talks, tours, specialist and skills sharing workshops, collaborative painting sessions and projects supporting emerging artistic talent are all part of MAFA’s regular activities programme.

Who We Are

Janina Cebertowicz, ‘Dawn sunlight, Rossendale valley.

Janina Cebertowicz, ‘Dawn sunlight, Rossendale valley.

We are an Academy

MAFA stands for Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. Although we have several things in common with art galleries and museums, we also have a wider role. MAFA encourages the practice of art as well as helps to promote the understanding and appreciation of fine art.

We are Artist-led

This means that MAFA is run by artists, just as it was over 160 years ago when it was first set up by some of the greatest North-West artists of the day. Each member must be a practising artist and elected by their peers in recognition of their work. Our members have many different techniques and styles, but they all share a passion for art and the belief that art can help shape the world we live in.

We don’t receive funding from charities or local authorities and so we are reliant upon the support of our members, visitors and friends to continue our work. Learn how you could support us…

Become A Friend


We have 5 Trustees who oversee the financial running of MAFA. Our Council members organise our exhibitions and events as well as looking after our website, archive, membership, funds and educational work.

Within our Council are five main officers who take up the following roles:

Kathleen Cecilia Lowe

Kathleen Cecilia Lowe



Kath Lowe is an award winning portrait painter, who studied at Manchester Metropolitan University between 1997- 2001. Her work is held in private collections in the UK including Salford Cathedral, USA, France, Holland and Ireland. She has exhibited at the Manchester Art Gallery, Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the Royal Society of British Artists and was awarded the Discerning Eye Award at the Mall Galleries in London. Kath has been an active member of MAFA since 2001, taking on various roles on Council. She was Vice President of MAFA from 2019 to 2022 and has recently been elected as President of the Academy. Her aim as President is to keep the Academy at the forefront of the North West Art Scene, through exhibiting in Public and Commercial Galleries and to promote Fine Art and education, through talks and workshops which reach out to the wider community, and to support young artists via the MAFA Graduate Awards scheme with Manchester School of Art.

Janina Cebertowicz

Janina Cebertowicz



Janina Cebertowicz first studied at Manchester Metropolitan University before continuing on to graduate in Fine Art at Bath Academy of Fine Art, where her tutors included Michael Kidner, Peter Kinlay and William Scott. She remains a strong believer in Art Education after 34 years of teaching; she continued to produce her own work and exhibit throughout her long teaching career. Janina produces paintings, drawings and prints with a narrative element on a range of interconnected subjects. Her work is held in a number of private collections in the UK and Europe and in Brooklyn, USA. She is also artist to the Royal Northern College of Music and was a recipient of the MAFA Bursary which enabled three visits to Poland to work with the Warsaw Philharmonic. She has been a member of MAFA since 1982 and in her recent role of steward to the Artists' General Benevolent Institution her aim was to raise the profile of the AGBI and strengthen its connections with MAFA. As Vice President her role will be to support the President and work with the Exhibition Committee to develop proposals and continue to establish links with key galleries in the North West.

Anna Thomas

Anna Thomas

AGBI Steward


Anna Thomas is a painter whose work reflects her love of the natural world. Anna was elected into MAFA in 2019 and was invited to join the Council in 2021. In 2022, she took on the role of Steward for the Artists’ General Benevolent Institution. The AGBI was founded in 1814 and provides financial support to professional artists unable to work or earn due to accident, illness or older age. MAFA is a longstanding supporter of the AGBI through its annual donations and additional individual funds donated by its members. Anna aims to be approachable and accessible within MAFA, in order to help identify potential applicants amongst fellow members and MAFA's wider network of professional artists. She will continue to raise the awareness of the AGBI within MAFA, and to promote this further into the artistic community and to a wider audience of art lovers who may wish to support this important and worthy cause. She hopes to further strengthen MAFA’s relationship with the AGBI and to explore additional ways to raise funds. Find out more about the AGBI: https://www.agbi.org.uk/

Peter Davis

Peter Davis



Peter Davis is a social realist painter and his beautifully observed urban landscapes and contemporary portraits are a social documentary on our epoch. His work is held in both private and public art collections and, in 2020, he was part of the John Moores Painting Prize, a prestigious biennial award that showcases the best in contemporary British painting. Peter is passionate about art history and used to working with archives, having written and published a commemorative book for another art society to mark their 2019 centenary. He took on the role of MAFA archivist in 2022 and is responsible for the Academy’s archives, in the form of catalogues, photographs, publicity, and members’ information that are kept in large cutting books in Manchester Art Gallery.

Alan Smith

Alan Smith


Alan took over as Treasurer of MAFA in 2019 and is pleased to be part of such a long standing body. Alan has been a Chartered Accountant in practice for well over 40 years. His main duties as Treasurer are to work closely with MAFA's President and Trustees to manage the financial aspects of the organisation. This includes keep MAFA’s books, recording all inward and outward payments and retaining copies of invoices. Alan manages MAFA’s accounts and prepares the annual financial year end report. As a non-artist, Alan has found it interesting to work with an arts society which is different to the companies that he usually works with as a Chartered Accountant.

MAFA's Council

We are always looking to the future and how we can sustain and develop this unique artist led organisation. Being a part of the Council is a challenging and busy business but is one that is enormously rewarding. We rely on volunteers from amongst our members to get involved and take on interesting projects.

If you are a member of MAFA and would like to become more involved, please get in touch. We would particularly encourage new members to take part. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and work with artists from across many disciplines.




Contact Us