Have you looked out from a Manchester tram to see a figure before an easel, stooped under an umbrella, painting furiously in the driving rain?
Chances are, you’ve seen one of The Northern Boys – the distinguished outdoor painting group – nine of the North’s finest plein air painters, dedicated professionals and friends.
For two weeks from Saturday 6 April, the inaugural group exhibition of The Northern Boys will be on display at Contemporary Six, an independent art gallery in Manchester city centre. Each of the nine artists will contribute a number of plein air paintings to the collection, from Manchester, Venice, London, and more, and after enjoying a 2018 full of awards and accolades from across the nation – now is the time to take notice.
Though each member has his own style, the group are united in their love for painting outdoors, “en plein air”. This hazardous process, requiring fortitude against the Great British weather and the inquisitive public, lends an unmistakable freshness and energy to the paintings.
Alex Reuben owner of Contemporary Six, says: "Painting outdoors creates work that is always distinctly of the moment in which it was created, and yet timeless. This is a quality found in the work of The Northern Boys — whether it be the evening-silhouetted domes of Italy, the lapping shores of Blackpool promenade, or the low beams of petrol-soaked cities. Life, as perceived by the artist, shines through."
Membership of this remarkably accomplished group incorporates four Gallery-artists: Rob Pointon, Adam Ralston, Norman Long, and Michael Ashcroft, along with Ian Layton, Chris Slater, Steven Smith, Andrew Farmer, and David Allen.
"The four Northern Boys represented by Contemporary Six are amongst the Gallery’s most popular artists,” adds Reuben. "They connect with us because they transport us to the places they lovingly depict. Only the very best paintings can do that."
Over the past 10 years, there has been a marked development in the group’s painting, and recognition is beginning to follow. The Northern Boys members are the recipients of three national British plein air awards: Pintar Rapido, PaintOut, and PaintLive, and the group’s work is a mainstay at the annual exhibitions of the Mall Galleries in London, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, and the New English Art Club.
The Northern Boys runs at Contemporary Six in Manchester from Saturday 6 April until Sunday 21 April 2019. Every painting in the show is available for purchase, with prices starting at £275.