One of William Shakespeare’s most famous works has been reimagined by a Preston painter starting to make it big in the world of art.
The English poet, playwright and actor’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes to life in paint in an exhibition coming out this month by Walton-le-Dale’s own Ian Norris.
Coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, Ian’s collection of paintings and drawings inspired by Shakespeare’s seminal play will be shown in a Cumbrian gallery after months of hard work.
The exhibition will feature 30 works of art, each directly relating to a moment or a passage of prose in the play and Ian says his inspiration came to him at a very young age.
“My first introduction to Shakespeare was at the age of eight or nine,” he said. “I was taken to see Peter Hall’s film of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the cinema, which starred a RSA cast of actors including Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, and Diana Rigg. This first introduction left a lasting impression which resurfaced at art school. I was asked to come up with a piece of work using my imagination, and the result was a charcoal drawing of the same play; a seed had been planted.”
Ian was brought up on Broadgate in Preston before moving to Walton-le-Dale with wife Janet and building a studio into his home.
And despite being a chartered surveyor by trade, the 55-year-old’s growing reputation means he’s thinking about giving art his full attention.
He said: “I was lucky enough to be elected as a member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts (MAFA) in 2010 which is an honour considering L S Lowry was one of the first members. I’ve been doing chartered surveying part-time since I started taking my art more seriously in 2000 but I’m at the point now where the attention has grown and I’m thinking of going full-time.”
Ian’s exhibition will be held at Castlegate House Gallery in Cockermouth from Saturday, June 25 until Saturday, July 16.
Steve Swallow, who owns Castlegate House Gallery with his wife Christine, said: “This will be Ian’s third exhibition with us and we are thrilled that we are able to stage this in a year which is so important in the world of art and culture.
“When we first saw Ian in his studio, several years ago now, even then he had the sketches for A Midsummer Night’s Dream pinned to the wall. It’s something he’s wanted to do for a very long time.
“Ian’s Midsummer Night’s Dream exhibition will focus on various elements of the play, depicting how he sees the characters and their roles in the story, including sections of prose that have stayed with Ian since childhood. The result is an incredible explosion of colour and energy through paint.”
Ian said: “I’ve been lucky enough to have two successful exhibitions already in the Castlegate gallery and hopefully this one will get a good reaction too.”