EMBRACING THE LANDSCAPE
When artist and creative Alice Uren moved to the Ribble Valley, she discovered a painting technique that captured and embraced the stunning landscapes
Born in Surrey and brought up in Hampshire, it was Alice Uren’s love of art that brought her north – to Nottingham, then Manchester – then on to the heart of the Ribble Valley. Now living in the picturesque village of Chipping with her partner John, Alice has had a career working with creatives across the North West.
She began her working life as a teacher of art: “When I left university it would have been nice to pursue a career as a professional artist but needs must so I went to teacher training college.
“I still managed to continue with my monoprints and still life work, but my career and the world of work took over!” explains Alice, who went on to work as the Arts Manager for Styal Workshop at Quarry Bank Mill, a National Trust textile museum where she ran textile and arts related programmes for schools and educational visits where pupils could observe traditional and contemporary weaving techniques.
During her 30 years working full time, Alice has always continued to work within the art world – she has also worked with creative industries across Greater Manchester for an initiative that supported small and medium sized enterprises in start-up and development opportunities.
“I have been very lucky – I have always tried to stick to art and education. I love art I am also very organised so I have been able to apply both those skills in my career,” adds Alice.
She also worked as an assistant officer for Arts and Crafts with Arts Council England North West, a job that involved assessing arts-related applications for grants and lottery funding, also working on regional initiatives such as the two-year ‘Setting Up Scheme’ that helped designer-makers establish themselves as practitioners.
“It’s only during the last few years that I have been able to work part time enabling me to develop my own creative projects and artwork,” says Alice, who moved to Chipping after meeting John, who is the head gardener at Whalley Abbey.
“I love the Ribble Valley! It is the perfect place and we are so fortunate to have this environment around us. I look out of the window and think how I personally could capture the landscape in a painting.
“From where I live I can see Parlick and Wolf Fell, Leagram, Chipping Moss, Longridge Fell and Jeffrey Hill – it’s a 360 degree panorama waiting to be captured.
“For example, one morning I woke up and saw sunrise over Chipping Moss and painted it.”
Alice admits in the early days she struggled to find her own personal painting style, but as the years have gone by, she has developed: “I know quite a lot about different styles of painting and have found it difficult – I have found tension in deciding whether to paint reality, abstract or romantically. As a result, I think my painting is more expressionism – it’s a mix of all these things combined with capturing a place in time, the landscape and the colour.”
Now working as a part time library assistant, Alice has always loved writing and combining this with her creative talent, she has produced a number of small art books featuring beautiful landscapes within the Trough of Bowland.
“I went on an organised walk through the Coronation Meadows just outside Slaidburn last year to celebrate National Meadow Day,” recalls Alice. “The walk also coincided with a collaboration with local poetry and painting groups, so the booklet was really a result of that.”
Other booklets she has produced featured a winter walk around Parlick, Jeffrey Hill and Kemple End – again featuring mixed media including digitally enhanced photography.
A keen walker, Alice is also interested in plants and botanicals in and around the Trough of Bowland and it was during lockdown that she began flower pressing: “When I am out painting, I often look at the bigger picture – the botanicals and plants in all their wondrous detail. Flower pressing is a way of capturing that,” says Alice, who keeps walking journals to record what she sees on country rambles. Looking to the future Alice is set to continue with her art and creativity, which she says is stimulated by her interest in Qigong, an ancient Chinese health and movement technique that she has been involved with for two decades.
“I started classes when I lived in Manchester and now I am lucky enough to have gong bath sessions in our village hall. It is very grounding and really does help with creativity as it focuses attention. The Ribble Valley really is a wonderful place to be,” says Alice, a lifelong vegetarian, who has worked for the Vegetarian Society. “I love going on some of the river walks and through the villages. I consider the landscape to be embracing rather than overpowering.”