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Routes to roots – Chris Cyprus talks about his latest project and making it as a Northern artist

Well-known Mossley artist Chris Cyprus spoke with us to discuss his story and his latest – and largest – project to date.

Chris Cyprus is a household name in Mossley – and for many people from further afar nowadays – thanks to his works depicting Northern landscapes that capture scenes that evoke nostalgia for those from the Pennines and Manchester. The paintings carry a warmth and vividness, and the landscapes he recreates in his inimitable technique with oils are unique, and corner part of the art world that goes untouched by many.

It is perhaps because of his background that Chris can capture the simple beauty of Northern towns so well. Having grown up in Gorton and then the Pennines, Chris has been surrounded by the scenes he recreates for the majority of his life, and this translates into many of his realistic but surreal depictions.

But it was not until Chris was in his 30s that he bloomed into the artist that he is today. Growing up in the 1970s did not afford Chris the opportunities to pursue art as much as he would have liked, which led Chris into becoming a builder until discovering his passion for painting.

Chris told us: “Everything I have done has come from what I have done myself, being proactive. I can’t get into certain galleries as I didn’t come from a certain arts school or a certain background. A self-taught builder that starts painting breaks the mould of everything. I was having my own exhibitions instead and I managed to do it all that way. But not being able to get on the ladder through the conventional sort of ways thanks to elitism and snobbery made me do these projects on my own.”

His works and exhibitions have landed him on our TV screens many a time now – from North West Tonight to BBC's The One Show, Chris has been recognised nationally for his work.

But it is his latest project that is the most ambitious to date – and will be the longest art project by distance in the UK.

Chris told us more about the new venture: “For Routes to Roots, I spoke with Simon Abbott and a team from Northern Rail and they said they loved the idea. I did a proposal and sent it back, and they were all for it. It is part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade fund, which they have a team called First & Last Mile who deal with the creative side and accessibility of the upgrade.”

The Transpennine Route Upgrade fund is allocating £3.9 billion which will bring in a major improvement scheme to deliver more frequent, faster trains between York, Leeds and Manchester on a cleaner, greener and more reliable railway.

Chris added: “They asked me to do all 23 stations from Manchester to York. I wanted it to be a legacy project, but as I was doing stuff at schools the idea came about for going into schools and getting them to do the work. I would act as the curator for it, and it is aimed at 14-17-year-olds for those thinking of choosing to do art. It is becoming harder for the working class to get into art as funding has practically disappeared.”

Chris believes that a well-rounded school curriculum should include a wide range of art-based activities at its core. He has strived to remedy the decrease in arts funding by working closely with schools in the past, and this project will be no different. Chris explained: "The project will celebrate the talent and vision of young individuals, reminding us of the power of art to strengthen our connection to the places we call home.”

To keep up to date with developments on the project, head to 'Chris Cyprus Artist' on Facebook.

 

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