Cheshire artist Colin Taylor has a head for heights
PUBLISHED: 17:59 10 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:50 20 February 2013
Artist Colin Taylor is at the top of his game when he's exhausted after a day's climbing or walking
Its as far removed from the typical artists studio as you can imagine but Colin Taylor is at his happiest when painting on a windswept, rain-lashed hilltop. Its not just about painting the view, its about trying to capture the whole experience, he said.
The weather, the conditions and the fact that youre knackered when you reach that point, it seems important to me to try to include all of that in my work.
Colin particularly enjoys the paths and trails around Cheshire, but he has also climbed around the world, scaling peaks across Europe and others in Africa, Asia and South America.And while many climbing fanatics are restricted by their day jobs, Colins gives him the chance to get some practice in - he owns and runs an indoor climbing centre in Warrington.
Throughout my adult life climbing and walking up mountains have been things I have always done, he said. I dont claim to be the best climber in the world but I am fairly experienced and I know what Im doing.I was climbing with a mate in the Lake District in the mid-1990s. It was a wet day and we went into an indoor climbing centre near Keswick.
We thought it was a silly idea at first but the more we thought about, the more it seemed like a good idea.He made enquiries and found that St Anns Church on Winwick Road was on the market. He bought it in 1995 and the climbing centre opened the following year. It now caters for more than 20,000 people of all ages and abilities every year.
The church is a grade 2* listed building so we wouldnt be allowed to alter it but it needed surprisingly little work. We installed an interior skin of climbing walls which reach about 15 metres high at the apex.
We started teaching people to climb indoors and then took them outdoors and most of them have gone on to become better climbers than I am. Anyone and everyone can have a go - weve had people from aged eight to 80 and from eight stone to 18 stone.
Colin, who moved to Manchester from his native Leicester in 1989 and now lives in Altrincham, attended art college and taught for a short time but he added: I have always painted - whenever I was climbing I was thinking of painting and whenever I was painting I was thinking of climbing and the two started merging.
I took a break from painting when the climbing centre opened and when I came back to it I just started to paint what I know - the things I saw and felt when I was climbing.
I have always gazed at mountains with wonder and enjoyed the space and the wind and the weather - its always seemed like the place to be. Ive always liked being in that environment. It was just a happy accident that I managed to combine what I love with a way of making a living.
Colin, 50, exhibited his work in Liverpool Cathedral earlier this year and has recently had work on show at Disburys Wendy Levy Gallery until July 2. He has also been invited to showcase is work in Cologne Cathedral next year as part of an exhibition to mark the 70th anniversary of an association between it and Liverpool Cathedral.