Category Archives: Ideas

Body of Work


I was going to title this post: Portraits of the Damned.

Then I started to include landscapes and still-lives to it. So, the title wouldn’t really make sense. But it will in a minute! Be afraid, be very afraid.

Some of you may, or may not, know that I volunteer for an Arts charity called Arc, (Arts for Recovery in the Community), in Reddish, Stockport.

I’ve done a lot of this work there, and some at home. But all the techniques I’ve picked up are from either attending or volunteering on their programmes.

Whether it be block-printing, collage, charcoal, watercolour, acrylics, inks, fabric, embroidery, clay or pastel. Not to mention the numerous techniques, yes brushes, but also charcoal tied to the end of a three feet long piece of bamboo! Bits of old Paymobil and Lego, edges of long out-of-date credit cards.

At Arc, it’s never about the technique and what end result you achieve, it’s about enjoying the process of doing it. Losing yourself, immersing yourself in art for a few hours – now that is medicine!

I appreciate that my work is more the stuff of nightmares rather than living room walls. But I like it!

Collage

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Pencil sketches

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Watercolour

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Self-portraits

Processed with Snapseed.

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Charcoal

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Pen and ink sketches

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Portraits of the Damned!

Mostly acrylic and chalk pastel on canvas or paper.

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And finally, the installation I made for the centenary commemoration of the end of the First World War at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery. R.I.P. Herbert Jackson of Didsbury Road, Heaton Mersey, Stockport. Railway man, musician, fiance – and soldier.

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Ten Orbits of the Sun – update.


Well, I didn’t progress further than the shortlist for the Mind Short Story Competition. Still, I’m very proud to have made it this far.

Anyhoo, a few folks said they would like to read my short story, so here it is. The theme for the competition was ‘Journeys’, either literal or metaphorical.

P.S. I’ll always be grateful to Mike O’Toole for his stunning front cover photography.

P.P.S. Here’s a quote from a Mind judge/organiser:

“Believe me, I was definitely rooting for 10 Orbits of the Sun to go through to the judges. Both myself and one of the shortlisters cried reading your story. It was so beautifully written and emotive.”

Ten Orbits of the Sun.

By David Milligan-Croft.

Something changes inside of you when you have a child. Obviously, things change inside of a woman, quite literally. But I’m talking about changing from a man’s point of view – philosophically.

Up until my late thirties, I never wanted kids. Why would I? They’d be a burden. I had a fabulous career, a few great friends, a fantastic salary and a nice little crash pad overlooking a languid river.

Then, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I got all broody. And I just wanted a baby. Specifically, a baby girl. I don’t know why I wanted a girl. Perhaps I found the thought of a rambunctious boy quite off-putting. Or maybe it was because I didn’t want a boy to turn out like his father.

It stands to reason that I had to find a suitable mother first, which took a little longer than I had anticipated. I met Suki on an online dating website and, as we were both pushing forty, we decided it would be prudent to start a family sooner rather than later. We had a lot in common, we both loved the arts and books, she even shared my passion for antiques. She worked at the local hospital as an ER nurse, while I worked in a large design agency working on global brand campaigns. When we got married I decided to quit the industry and open up an antique shop in a trendy part of town. Something I’d dreamed of doing since my twenties.

Anyhow, I got my wish. And I was the proud father of little Tallulah. When I said that something changes inside of you, I meant that something changes chemically as well as philosophically. Nothing else, nor anyone else, matters quite so much in the world. Every cell in your body is geared toward protecting this little being. It starts from the moment of conception. I used to sing lullabies to Suki’s tummy and recite poetry to her. I’d talk to her and tell her how much I loved her and how much I was looking forward to seeing her. It’s a love that’s hard to describe. You would do anything for your charge. Yes, even kill for them. Die for them. It’s quite primeval on one level. Yet deeply spiritual on another. I can understand why some parents conceal their children from the law if they have committed a crime.

Sure, not all parents feel this way. And I’m not trying to say that I’m unique in feeling like this. Plenty of parents are doting and plenty are neglectful.

It was three years before I had a full night’s sleep or a hot meal. I’d be bouncing Tallulah on my left knee to keep her entertained whilst trying to eat a bowl of lukewarm pasta with my right hand. Or driving her around the suburbs to get her off to sleep. Every day brought a new parenting challenge or experience. Like the time I pursed my lips and asked her to give me a ‘smacker’, so she slapped me across the face! Or the time she pulled at my cheek and asked: “Daddy, why is your skin like a raw chicken drumstick?” Charming.

Because I’d had a child later in life, other parents in the park would ask if I was her grandad. It didn’t help that I’d gone grey early in life. She found it funny at first, but as time went on I think it began to annoy her. That I wasn’t like the other dads who were all much younger than me. It used to worry me that I might not be around for her later in life – when she was at university, or if she got married, if she had children. I wondered if I had been selfish having a child so late on.

I watched my little girl flourish and blossom over the years. She was a happy kid. Loved to read. Loved to write her own stories. She’d make little 8-page books and fill them with fairy tales and drawings. She loved to ride her bike and occasionally we’d go to McEvoy’s farm and she’d ride Ruby, the chestnut brown mare. She didn’t care much for video games or TV either and would much prefer to concoct experiments out of things she’d find in the garden and around the house.

I remember one time, when we were going for a drive in the desert in my old jalopy, she’d said: “Daddy, how far is it around the sun?”

“What? The Earth’s orbit?” I’d said.

“Yes.”

“About 585 million miles, give or take a couple of hundred thousand. Depends on the time of year, I think.” I turned the volume down on the car stereo so I could hear my inquisitive daughter better.

“Why does it depend on the time of year?” she said, turning the volume back up again so she could hear the trashy pop song that was playing.

“Not a hundred percent sure. Something to do with the ellipse of the Earth’s orbit,” I tried to draw an ellipse in the dust on the dashboard. “And the tilt of the Earth’s axis.” Astronomy isn’t my strong point and I got the distinct impression that Tallulah guessed I was busking a little.

Tallulah looked out of the open passenger window from behind her sunglasses at the scorched desert dotted with parched brush and spindly shrubs.

I stole a glance at the side of her pensive face, her golden hair was tantalising her cheeks. “Why d’you ask?”

“By my next birthday, I will have travelled 5.8 billion miles around the sun. Pretty amazing, huh?”

I pursed my lips. “When you look at it like that, kiddo, it is pretty amazing.”

“And that’s not including all the miles we’ve done down here on Earth,” she said wistfully.

I didn’t know how many miles we’d clocked up on Earth, and, in the great scheme of things, it probably wouldn’t affect Tallulah’s ‘orbital total’ very much. But it was still a significant amount for mere Earth dwellers.

I don’t know why this memory of my daughter springs to the forefront of my mind. Perhaps it is because it’s to do with heavenly bodies. The very fact that she came up with this concept amazed me. She could often be very abstract in her thinking. While other kids were busy playing with Barbie dolls, Tallulah was calculating how far she’d travelled in the universe. I always imagined her growing up to be a great children’s writer one day. Or maybe even a scientist.

Tallulah didn’t make it into double figures before she was taken from me. It was that God-damned bike I’d bought for her ninth birthday. She was cycling home from school when a truck cut her up at some traffic lights. The driver said he didn’t see her coming up on the inside.

I’d always been uncomfortable with her riding to and from school. Not because she was a careless rider but because of careless drivers. However, her friends all did it, so she wanted to do it too. I guess I should have been a stronger father and forbidden it. Up until then I’d always dropped her off and picked her from school in the car. But peer pressure had reluctantly forced me to concede.

I was at the shop when it happened. I don’t know, but around the time of the accident, I recall being overwhelmed by a sense of grief. Like, somehow I’d had this telepathic connection with her, or something. Sounds ludicrous, I know. Though, I didn’t put it down to anything bad having befallen my little girl at the time. I just thought it was due to my mood swings.

I got a phone call from my distraught wife about an hour later. She had been working in the ER department when Tallulah was brought in. It was hard to make out what Suki was actually trying to tell me through her hysterical sobs. When the penny finally dropped, I felt the world disappear from beneath my feet and I was suddenly floating in a black void. I was dizzy. I felt my insides twitch and heave and I vomited over a glass cabinet containing antique duelling pistols. I think the customers must have thought I was hungover as they stared at me disdainfully and left the shop.

I closed the store and rushed to the hospital. But it was too late. The truck had already crushed the precious life out of her. Had the driver been there when I found out I imagine I would have killed him. Not that I would do that now, having had time to reflect on the incident. I know it was an accident. He didn’t mean to kill her. But he should’ve taken more care. Particularly at that time of day, being near a school and all.

I have never known grief like it.

I don’t believe in heaven and hell.

But this was hell.

The depths of Christian hell could not provide me with such torment. I went over all of the things that I might possibly have done for Tallulah not to have been at that particular spot at that particular moment in time. Not buying her the bike was top of the list. Me picking her up was a second. Taking gymnastics class on a Tuesday instead of violin on a Wednesday was another. Or letting her go to her friend Maisie’s house after school so she would have taken a different route. There were an infinite amount of possibilities. Of variables that would have put her at a different point in the universe at that moment in time. And I didn’t take any of them. It was my fault, not the truck driver’s.

As you can imagine, my wife was inconsolable too. But I had to put on a more stoic face for everyone else: the police, doctors, funeral directors, family, friends. I know people mean well by wanting to offer their condolences, but the last thing we wanted to do at that time was talk to anybody. Shout – yes. Scream – definitely. Why? Why Tallulah? What had she ever done to anybody? To me, it was further proof that there is no god. How could an all-powerful, loving deity let a beautifully perfect little girl be killed in such a horrific way? What the hell was the point of existence?

That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in some form of afterlife. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. Perhaps we’re reincarnated. Or, maybe we rise to a higher dimension. I once had the notion that the afterlife was an emotion rather than a place. Sort of like ecstasy or bliss. That one’s spirit melded back into the universe in a kind of eternal rapture. Most likely, there will be nothing. I don’t know. But it’s a chance I’m not prepared to take.

Of course, I haven’t discussed this with Suki. What would she say? She’d say I was being irrational. And I guess I am. No rational person decides to take their own life. She’d say I needed to see a doctor. That I was depressed. Not thinking straight. Get some pills or bereavement counselling. On the other hand, I could also see why my thinking is completely rational. It wasn’t fair on Suki, I know that. To lose a child and a husband. But what choice do I have?

You know what I miss the most about Tallulah? It’s a sound. Specifically, a word. It’s a word I’ll never hear ever again: “Daddy.” There isn’t a more perfect sound in the entire universe. Perhaps her mother would disagree.

Like I said at the beginning – having a child changes you. You’d do anything to protect them. And I have failed in that respect. Why should my parental duties end in this life? Lots of religious people believe in heaven and hell. But they don’t think twice about giving up on their dead loved ones. If their faith was so resolute why wouldn’t they follow them to paradise?

Perhaps Tallulah and I will both spend eternity in black nothingness. In which case, it won’t matter a jot to either of us. But if there is something else, I’m certainly not going to let my beloved daughter wander the afterlife all by herself.

What kind of father would I be?

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New Tanka Poem


I’ve been without t’internet for a couple of weeks due to moving house.

Whilst staring out of the living room window and pondering my new environment, this tanka poem occurred to me.

There’s something very calming and meditative about watching a murmuration of starlings. I feel lucky and blessed have witnessed one.

 

A murmuration

Of starlings swirling in and

Out of the early

Morning fog. Like avian

sceptres – were they truly here?

 

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We Are Dreamers 2018


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As some of you may know, I’ve been working on an art installation with Arc to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.

There will be hundreds of ‘dream’ boxes from local children, adults and artists depicting their dreams and aspirations.

Ten of the boxes, (of which mine is one), will honour the life of a Stockport soldier who lost his (or her), life.

The point of these ten boxes is to honour these people as human beings who had lives outside of being a soldier. In fact, this is what made up the vast majority of their lives. And they had dreams and aspirations too. What would have become of them?

 

The soldier I picked lived locally to me in Heaton Mersey. His name was Herbert Jackson. He worked for Cheshire Lines Railway in Cheadle Heath and played several instruments in the Heaton Mersey Prize Band.

He was due home on leave in the Spring of 1918 to marry his fiance. Unfortunately, his leave was cancelled due to the massive German Spring Offensive of March and April. He was wounded by artillery fire on the 26th April and was moved to a Casualty Clearing Station where he died the following day aged 25. He is buried in Haringhe (Bandaghem ) Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium.

The letter, (which rests on top of the box), is not real. It is something I thought Herbert might have written to his fiance whilst in hospital. Tonally, however, it is based on actual letters from a friend of mine’s grandfather who fought on the Somme.

The ‘Princess Mary’ tin, which was given to all soldiers I imagined would contain mementos of his fiance, such as a lock of her hair.

For me, Herbert’s dream for the future was to come back to the two things he loved most – his fiance, and music.

The sheet music, which lines the interior of the box, is by J.S. Bach and the lyrics are in German. Whilst I doubt that Herbert would have spoken German, they would share the common language of music.

This tribute is to honour the life of Herbert Jackson and all the other men, women and children from every nation, who died in the First World War, and to what futures there might have been.

The We Are Dreamers 2018 exhibition opens on the 11th November, 2018 at the Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery.

Private Herbert Jackson’s biography details were provided courtesy of http://www.stockport1914-1918.co.uk/

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Happy 70th Birthday NHS…


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Nye Bevan

…Thank you for bringing me into this world. And thank you for keeping me in it.

Thank you for resetting all of my broken bones. And thank you for sewing me back together.

Thank you for operating on me when I needed fixing. And thank you for sending an ambulance when I couldn’t make it there by myself.

You have saved my life and patched me up more times than I care to remember. Without you, I would surely not be here.

Most of all, thank you for bringing my two daughters into this world. Thank you for taking care of them when they were sick and for vaccinating them from deadly diseases.

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To all the nurses, doctors, GPs, clinicians, technicians, auxillary nurses, dentists, paramedics, ambulance technicians, call handlers, midwives, radiologists, cardiologists, pharmacists, oncologists, scientists, anaethetists, surgeons, psychiatrists, counsellors, psychotherapists, physicians, administrators, managers, secretaries, receptionists, cooks, housekeepers, porters, Nye Bevan, the Labour Party and all the other staff of our National Health Service who I have forgotten to mention –

Happy 70th Birthday!

And, thank you.

(Have yourself a slice of cake. But not too much. Don’t want you getting diabetes.)

 

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The Boating Party with Michael Koropisz


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of Q&As with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship, the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are one of the most important aspects of our civilisation.

Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy.

Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society. To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

Perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where is the creativity that will solve the world’s problems going to come from? Including economic and scientific ones?

In this Q&A, I am delighted to welcome artist Michael Koropisz.

I love the way he paints in a classical way yet adds a modern twist that make you look twice.

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Michael Korpisz

What has been your greatest personal or career achievement?

Well, that is a tough one. I have three which were all great achievements at the time, but looking back some outrank others in my present stage of life.

My first great achievement was in 2012 when I was 16 years old. Whilst studying Art GCSE in secondary school, I painted a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and sent it to her as a gift. I thought that was the end of that until I received a reply of gratitude on her behalf from her Lady-in-waiting. I told my art teacher and he surprised me by alerting the headteacher and the local news papers. That day was filled with interviews and photo shoots. I found myself in the newspaper and for a week or so I was recognised in the streets on many occasions and congratulated on my achievements.

My second achievement was winning the prestigious Aon Art Award in which the company Aon (sponsor for Manchester United) leased two of my paintings for their client suite in the heart of London. My works were on display for a year before they were auctioned and sold for a generous sum.

My third is a personal achievement, and the most recent. I spent the year training to be a school teacher. I was doubted a lot by others and endured many hardships but after a year I successfully graduated.

What has been your greatest sacrifice?

My greatest sacrifice was the year I spent training as a teacher. It was something that I highly underestimated, as do many. The job is filled to the brim with paperwork, the hours are very long, and I was intimidated by the staff in my department. I was completely unpaid and struggled financially. Every day in school, I thought of what I could be achieving had I pursued my career as an artist. I am now a full time artist.

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

My parents. They have always supported every decision I made and have complete faith in me. I owe everything in my life to them.

Who, or what, inspires you?

History (18th-19th century) is my inspiration for everything; my clothing, my compositions/music, my artworks and interior design. I often believe that I had a past life, as I have had a real connection with historical clothing and furniture from a very early age, and in turn modern clothing and décor feels uncomfortable and wrong to me.

What makes you unhappy?

To see a lack of manners and disrespect to other people and animals.

What makes you happy?

Many things make me happy, but the main thing is music. I, as many, can listen to music for hours and discover new elements whilst being transported into the world of the composer. It is truly the most powerful art form, and we still have no explanation or definition as to why it is so meaningful.

What are you reading?

I do not read many books, but I do read online. I mainly read non-fiction on philosophy, religion, history, physics (time travel theories and astronomy) and the theory of music/composition as well as art.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

I listen mainly to classical music. From my early childhood I adored Baroque music, especially the works of G. F. Handel. However, as I grew older my taste moved to the more comical side of music in the way of operetta. My current favourite composer is Sir. Arthur Sullivan, known for his partnership with W.S Gilbert as Gilbert and Sullivan.

When I play on my piano or harpsichord, however, I cover a vast range of genres from the Renaissance, Classical, Ragtime, Jazz to Pop.

You’re going on a day trip. Where are you going and what is in your ‘day’ bag?

I would go on a day out in the English countryside and find a picturesque spot for a picnic. I would not take a bag, but a car filled with antique clutter. The aim would be to create a ‘show’ which inspires passers-by to hark to the past themselves. I would take a decorating table covered in a linen cloth, gold antique chairs, my gramophone, fine china, tea pots and a croquet set. I would wear my original Victorian clothing complete with my 1880s moleskin top hat and pocket watch.

What’s your favourite film?

Titanic, as the historical accuracy captured by James Cameron is incredible as well as the music by Horner.

What’s your favourite tipple?

Normally water, but on the occasional night out, white wine or champagne.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I have two places.

  1. Last week’s Euro lottery draw with the winning numbers written down.

  2. Victorian London. I would love to spend a week or two there. But not for too long due to the dirt and diseases.

What frightens you?

Ghosts and Death.

What do you do to relax?

I write music. Orchestral scores such as sonatas, operas, operettas and arias.

What do you do when you’re angry?

I go cycling. It really helps me calm down and perks me up for the rest of the day.

What can’t you live without?

Hot water. I shower three times a day.

What’s your motto?

“You cannot sit on a coal mine and wait for the coal to magically come to you. You must go in and dig for it”. This implies that an artist cannot spend his life waiting for inspiration, he must push himself to achieve greatness.

Where is your Utopia?

Upper/Middle-class Victorian England, with its social morals and respect, beautiful clothes, architecture, art and music. Not to mention the lack of car pollution. Though the north of England was probably worse with all that soot and smoke due to the industry.

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

Travel the vast land of North America.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

My college art teacher who claimed I was not an artist as my work was not relevant in today’s society. She was a modern artist and had me disqualified from art. I therefore have no A-level in the subject.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Prince William, so that I could convince him that I should be his court artist for the remainder of his life. Being young, his patronage could be really useful.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on local commissions and extravagant portraits.

What is your ambition?

To spend my life as a painter and change the outlook on the world in a way in which we do not forget the aesthetics and skills of the past but take the best parts from it.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I would remove cars. I feel that local communities have broken down because of them, they clutter streets and people would be much healthier and happier without them. Though this would take some time to adjust to. Imagine a world in which everyone walks, travels on horseback, in carriages or cycles.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

  1. G. F Handel (Composer)

  2. Sir Arthur Sullivan (Composer)

  3. Queen Victoria

  4. Franz Winterhalter (Artist)

  5. A passenger from the Titanic- It would be interesting to hear about the night of the sinking in detail.

  6. My father – Being from a very working class background I would love to see his face as the snobbery unfolded.

Though, by the sounds of it, this boating party would consist of me and my father sat with a pile of corpses, as most of the guests are dead.

What would be on the menu?

I think that the guests would be very hungry after not eating for over a century. Therefore, I would serve a meal commonly eaten in the Victorian era, consisting of around 8 courses, as was done at the time.

What question would you have liked me to have asked?

Do you paint on commission? The answer- Yes I do. Though, as I have already mentioned, I would be happy for anyone to contact me regarding personal commissions. I can paint from photographs, although I do prefer a sitting, though this is not always possible if someone is unavailable or far away.

Thank you Michael.

Scroll down to see some of Michael’s stunning work. There are also links to his Facebook and Instagram pages. Plus, two fabulous YouTube videos of classical music he has composed. And, if you like his work, drop him a line. I think he’s going to be a star of the future. Hopefully, not too distant.

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Artist’s biography.

I am a 22 year old artist living in Cheshire, England. Art has always played an important role in my life. I have been painting for as long as I can remember. My mother bought me oil paints and canvases in my very early youth as she clearly saw potential for some sort of talent.

I went on to graduate in 2017 with a degree in Fine Art and Art History from the Manchester School of Art. After that, I graduated again in 2018 with a degree in secondary school teaching.

The theory on which I base my practice is as follows:

We live in the shadows of the past. Some of us try to ignore them and others sentimentally hold onto them. I, however, live within them. Through my studio practice, I debate the ideas of beauty and aesthetical values, based upon the creations of artists, both past and present.

My studio practice falls within the domain of painting as an expanded field. Through my work, what I hope to achieve is a display of context wherein the viewer can critically look through the many layers of history, taking from it fragments that still resonate with today’s society, as opposed to those isolated from an informed or questioning eye.

My current studio practice consists of producing elaborate portraits in oil paints. I see great visual beauty in many realist works. And I question what beauty is? Is beauty mathematical? Is it natural? Why it is that Vermeer’s attention to detail is beautiful? His painting of floor is beautiful. His calculated lighting is beautiful. My work consists of both mathematical and natural beauty. I use many techniques such as the golden ratio and chiaroscuro, but I also follow my minds guidance to produce visually striking work.

My artistic practice is based on this idea of analysing art history and taking from it the most ‘successful’ outcomes to be used in my work.  I do this with my eyes wide open, and with full knowledge and appreciation for modern art, as taught on my current course.

Though, in my portraiture I strive for realism and beauty, I make it clear that I am not recreating new works in a past style, but simply appropriating the techniques of past painters to question class and status. As well as implementing modern ideas and characteristics into my work.

My work displays a combination of artistic skill, aesthetic beauty and a suggestion of humour towards the modern world. An example of this is can be found in my recently painted female nude. I was inspired to paint my model in the style of William Adolphe Bouguereau, a romantic painter specialising in the female nude and painting of angels. However at the sitting, I discovered that my model had some tattoos and piercings. I originally intended to paint them out, however after some thought I decided that is was the beauty of merging a romantic style with the modern day. Rather than to replicate an exact style, I was able to create something new based on the ideas of the past.

Baroque and Classical music interests me also, and through my studies I examine the links between both painting and music. Whilst studying baroque composition, I came across a heavy set of rules just as there are in art of the same period. Music and art seem to intertwine with one another and I am fascinated by how both art forms have the power to correspond with each other.

When I am not working on my artworks, I write orchestral music. I am currently writing a comic opera about a love potion for a full classical orchestra complete. The music is light but in some areas very moving. My dream would be to have it performed by a live orchestra and singers. I wrote both the music and the libretto myself.

Artist’s web links.

My Facebook art page – https://www.facebook.com/mr.koropisz/

My Instagram art page – https://www.instagram.com/m.koropisz.artist/

The overture from my comic opera (performed by a virtual orchestra) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyycbjVluOM

My baroque composition performed by my brother on the recorder and myself on the harpsichord- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGyyBA5J358

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A Soldier’s Dream


I’m really excited (and honoured) to be taking part in an art exhibition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The exhibition is being organised by ARC (a charity I do quite a lot of voluntary work for).

The exhibition is being held at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery from 11th November.

After the war, residents of Stockport, rather than erect a traditional war memorial to commemorate the dead, decided to build an art gallery so that future generations may benefit from their sacrifice. Which I think is a brilliant idea.

The theme of the exhibition is ‘A Soldier’s Dream’.

Because, all of these soldiers were, once upon a time, civilians who worked in factories and mills, merchant companies and railways. They had wives and children, brothers and sisters. Mums and … well, you get the picture.

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Scale model of the exhibition.

Instead of focussing on what they did in the war, the exhibition aims to show them as ordinary everyday people who had hopes, dreams and aspirations. Rather than just one aspect of their lives which was to give it in service of their country.

The part that I am involved in is to create a ‘Soldier’s Dream box’. This takes the form of ten 40cm x 40cm wooden crates and each one will ecapsulate the dreams of a soldier who lost his life.

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I can’t tell you what mine will be about yet as I am still in the research stage. I have been finding out about people local to my area in the Four Heatons who lost their lives.

I have always loved history, in particular, the First World War, so I was really excited and passionate about getting involved. (I even did a tour of the Somme a few years ago. I know, I’m a great laugh to go on holiday with.)

As part of my research, (provided by the brilliant website www.stockport1914-18.co.uk), I have been reading brief biographies of soldiers from the Heatons who died. Of which there are many.

But, reading about where they worked, who they married, their children’s names, what team they played for, makes it all the more personal. They aren’t soldiers anymore. They are real people who lived real lives. And I guess that’s the whole point of the exhibition.

Some of the biogs even give their address! These are houses I pass every week. The stories that must be contained between their walls must be incredible.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll keep you posted when I have something new to tell you.

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