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Mike Jackson

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Cellos, horses, ballerinas, cartoon-esque animals, contorted houses, scooters and bison. No, not a contestant recounting all that they’ve just witnessed on one time Saturday night TV game show, The Generation Game’s product-packed conveyer belt, but rather the somewhat eclectic mix-and-match artistic back catalogue of acclaimed contemporary fine artist (and former butcher), Mike Jackson. Plus neither the aforementioned horses nor bison were cuddly toys, either. Anyway, ta dah! And introducing Mike Jackson. Self-taught artist, humourist, nostalgiast (if there’s such a word) and social observer. The last bit being a key attribute for any contemporary artist we would have thought.

Born in Manchester in 1962 Jackson departed secondary school with few qualifications and was encouraged to find himself a trade to master which would then (hopefully) serve him well through his professional life thereafter. Which is of course perceived to be ‘the way’ many grandfathers, father, sons, brothers, kids etc make their way in t’world. The trade Jackson opted for was butchery, which is always a sound idea thanks to Britain’s continued obsession with meat-sourced products. So Jackson trained to become a butcher and that was that. Only it wasn’t. As Jackson harboured this crazy idea of being an artist.

Fast forward some years (and some varied professions in the meantime) and Jackson finally entered the world of art. Well, in a roundabout sort of way which was resultant in pretty much self-educating himself in the noble art of, art. Jackson’s first big break in the ‘industry’ as such was when he landed himself a role as a Graphic Designer, whereby he honed his creative skills within broad commercial art-savvy spectrums, which – aside from more traditional elements – necessitated the mastering of the all-conquering Apple Mac. And therein, various computer design software package-t stuff. He stayed and developed his skillset within this corporate design environ for 12 years in total, acquiring much and more in terms of creative knowledge/power.

In Jackson’s spare time he laid the foundations for his future solo career by gaining talents for painting in mixed media applications. Predominantly watercolours and acrylics. Jackson revelled in his self-taught ways though, later admitting that he enjoyed learning from his own mistakes and wouldn’t have had it any other way. To Jackson’s mind, this proved to be the best way of developing and evolving both technique and personal style, as many other self-schooled artists would doubtless concur.

Remaining true to his proud northern roots, Jackson credits Salford-born and bred (Salford being a district of Manchester to the uninitiated) LS Lowry as being foremost among his artistic inspirations, yet away from mainstream artistic influences Jackson confides that many of his concepts and ideas which later become fully fledged works of art do in fact emerge whilst he’s engaged in the mundane. Day to day happenings such as driving for example, when thoughts about quirky little images often slip into his head. Jackson grows those simplistic, rudimentary ideas in his studio, routinely drawing hundreds of little sketches, from which he develops two, possibly three of what he considers the best, and evolve through phases to become the original paintings and limited edition prints that we know and love.

As opposed to London, it turned out to be Somerset calling in 1999, when Jackson moved heaven and earth (although in reality just himself and his possessions) and relocated in this beautiful corner of the UK; and which has furnished him still further with infinite inspiration of the creative variety ever since he upped sticks. Mentioning the magnificent beaches in the locality and the coastline as a whole, landscaped dynamic, Jackson truly believes that his new everyday scenery has provided even greater inspired visual moments and depth to his paintings, and illustrative reference points as far as they can roam.

Like so many artists, Jackson loves nothing better than to engage in a spot of people watching, and his new manor affords the artist in him endless visual volume of holiday romancers, beach bums, surf dudes, screaming kids on a candy floss-induced sugar high and traditional day tripping stereotypes tucking into their pre-packed butties, supping from their flasks of tea, wrestling with their buckets and spades and queuing up for the coach trip homeward. Which all sounds a bit ‘Carry On’ to us, but we kinda get the drift all the same.