On Saturday (February 10), the latest exhibition by a local established artist was officially launched at The Larder on Lancaster Road in Preston city centre, and was attended by councillors, artists, art lovers and Friends of The Larder.
The launch event for Preston based fine artist Iain H William’s exhibition of abstract paintings and artwork, entitled "Paintings 2017-2021", took place between 3-5 pm, with Shirley Bailey and Bernie Velvick from The Brewtime Collective, a network of Preston independent artists and arts organisers, officially opening the exhibition.
The display is running between January 25 and Sunday March 20, and hopes to bring something colourful to The Larder Cafe, who approached local abstract artist Iain to put work forward that would both engage their clientele and help promote community projects.
Iain, 51 who grew up in Preston and currently lives in Samlesbury, said: “The launch was really good, we had a chat about the exhibition and where Preston is right now culturally, and what's needed, so it was really nice to be able to just put that focus back onto art for a few minutes over a coffee and a chat.
"There's a nice timeline of work there that highlights what I do as an artist, which is this very bold, colourful, contemporary abstracts with an urban feel because that's where I get a lot of my inspiration from, and Victoria was incredibly gracious and asked if I could display some work for them as they're trying to showcase local art and local artists, and I said yes.
"And because of what they do, a collaboration was even more attractive, you know they're a community based social enterprise and they're doing all the work with food education and helping out various parts of the community, so it was a no brainer to say yes, and especially in the past couple of years, with what we've just gone through, we need that community spirit more so than ever."
Art @ The Larder runs a programme of exhibitions featuring Preston based artists and photographers all year around, and contacted Iain after seeing his triptych of canvases on display in the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, which had been commissioned for the Preston Live Arts Festival 2021 as part of the Preston Awakens exhibition.
Although this piece would not be available, Iain agreed to support the work The Larder does by presenting a new exhibition featuring some of his recent work, which include paintings from 2017, when he first moved back to Preston after years working elsewhere, up until today.
Victoria Dyer, the curator of Art @ The Larder said: "It is a real pleasure after the devastating damage done to our windows recently to be in a position to host such a prestigious event and continue to provide a venue for high quality art in the centre of the city of Preston."
Exhibitions at The Larder take place in the Café to provide a showcase for local artists as well as creating a colourful and thought-provoking environment for patrons and community groups.
Feedback is welcome and the artwork is for sale, with commissions helping to fund the "Kids in the Kitchen" holiday cooking programme that the social enterprise runs to address issues around food poverty and holiday hunger.
Talking about Preston's artistic culture, Iain added: "With the Harris closing, and the loss of the participation in the cultural bid for 2025, there doesn't appear to be that much vocal or financial support from the city or from the Council at the moment, we have a real lack of engagement and opportunities for local creators, not just artists, but anybody and everybody, and I think we need to try and grab as many opportunities as we can.
"It would be great to find out what the future is for the city in terms of what's going to happen, and not just with the Harris- we can't just rely on one museum, we need more opportunities, as Preston is so much greater than what it currently is.
“We shouldn't have to rely on having to go to Manchester or Liverpool or London for creative engagement, we should be now leading our own path within this city.”
Iain has become a successful established artist in the North West, with his work being placed in national and international collections.
He currently has a selection of paintings on show at the newly opened arts-led UNITOM Store in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and is soon to announce projects with Atlantic Contemporary Art Ltd (Ribble Valley) amongst others, publish his first ‘zine’, and appear in London later this year.
Along with an appearance at last years Manchester Art Fair, Iain also commissioned paintings for Preston Live 202, the Harris Museum and had a short film of his work created by The Artistry House, Winckley Square.