The Art of Stockport with Helen Clapcott

PUBLISHED: 21:23 17 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:58 20 February 2013



For more than 30 years artist Helen Clapcott has captured the demolition of the town's heritage buildings in a medium used on the Sistine Chapel

TINY people and cars, looking for all the world like ants, go about their busy existence while equally small red and yellow cranes eat away at old mills and factory buildings.

Helen Clapcott's paintings record the demolition of Stockport's heritage and the rise of new buildings that have sprung up around the viaduct and the motorway as it snakes through the landscape.

Helen, 55, lives in Macclesfield with illustrator Ian Pollock, and their children Arnold, 18, and Peggy, 15. Ian was also from the Stockport area: 'He was almost the boy next door and we both ended up studying in London.

We lived there until I couldn't stand it any longer and moved back north.' Helen moved to Stockport at the age of ten and says that it was her adolescent years in the town that left such a lasting impression on her and is the probably reason why she only paints Stockport.

She studied art at Liverpool and the Royal Academy Schools in London where she perfected working in egg tempera, a traditional medium that mixes pigment and water with egg and which was used on the Sistine Chapel.

'When I went to art school I started off painting in oils on huge canvases like "proper" artists did.

But it never really worked and so someone suggested that I try egg tempera and smaller panels. I resisted at first but as soon as I tried it I knew it was for me. So I'm not a real artist,' she says laughing. Her fans disagree and her work is already collected in America as well as this country.

Next month her paintings can be seen in an exhibition called Millscapes, which will also feature Lowry's work, at the Stockport Art Gallery. She will follow that with her own exhibition in the same venue in April. Helen is currently working on paintings of the Stockport Union Workhouse, later St Thomas' Hospital, which is now set to become part of Stockport College's campus; and Hopes Carr, the site of the Stockport air disaster of 1967.

When she's not painting Helen plays netball for Team B of Poynton Netball Club in the Manchester Evening Netball League. 'Yes, I still play at my ripe old age but we're not winning at the moment: maybe I should take the hint and hang up my trainers,' she jokes. Asked about plans for the future and she is momentarily baffled before answering: 'I have no great plans except to carry on as I am. I'm very happy. Painting doesn't earn very much but I'm the richest person in the world because I'm doing what I want to do.'

Helen's work can be seen at Troubadour Gallery, Chorlton, tel: 0161-718 9174, www.troubadourgallery. and her own website

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