Artist profile - Gareth Evans

PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 April 2020

My Father's Books by Gareth Evans

My Father's Books by Gareth Evans

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From butterflies to geisha girls, Macclesfield artist Gareth Evans pictures the things he loves best.

Sphinx in Layers by Gareth EvansSphinx in Layers by Gareth Evans

Growing up in a remote cottage in North Wales, Gareth Evans says he spent a lot of time listening to heavy metal music and doing oil paintings, although art was not a career he decided to pursue.

‘I didn’t go to art college,’ he says, ‘but chose a career in the music industry. After 20 years of building a business and raising a family, about six years ago I came back to my art, with a passion. I tried lots and lots of different things, but eventually evolved into doing just what I like, and not worrying about whether other people will like it. I created a series I call My Father’s Books; he was an English teacher and growing up, the house was filled and overflowing with classic novels. I wanted to recreate the feeling of being surrounded by these books.’

Gareth’s version of his father’s library is inspired by Victorian butterfly collectors, who would pin a perfect specimen to a board. His butterflies are cut from high resolution photographs of his father’s books, each one carefully lacquered and mounted on heavy, textured paper and beautifully framed. You can see everything, from coffee rings to the foxing on the old covers, giving a feeling of intimacy with the subject that keeps drawing you back to look again and again.

As well as his butterfly artworks, Gareth has another, very different, body of work – Geisha. These are, he says, a complete multimedia creation, starting with digital photo manipulation and finishing with the delicate application of gold and silver leaf, acrylic paints, 3D tiles and even Swarovski crystals. They are quite breathtakingly beautiful, with an almost Mona Lisa-like ability to make you stop, pause and stare.

‘I take a photo of a young, oriental woman and then digitally layer photography (some my own, some from other sources) to create a final image, which is then printed onto canvas. I then add acrylic paints, gold leaf, etc, to layer up the piece to take it to a place that I am happy with. Everything I do after selecting that first image is to project or create a feeling of atmosphere. They have a slightly urban feel – street art for the home.’

These heavily layered pieces are sold through galleries across Cheshire – they really need to be seen to get the full impact. Visit Watergate Street Gallery in Chester, Rennies in Liverpool, the new Little Cheshire Gallery in Nantwich, Vermilion in Knutsford and Northern Makes in Bollington. Gareth also sells hand-finished prints online, in very limited edition runs.

‘When I started my art again, it wasn’t with the intent to commercialise it. I just took a couple of pieces to a gallery and it’s grown from there. This last 12 months it’s been hard to keep up with demand.’

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