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Local artist, Lesley Keeler, has chosen to present her first exhibition at the Tea Amantes gallery and tea room. David Simper took his camera and recorder down to the gallery to catch these bright and striking acrylic images.

Tea Amantes is such an excellent venue for a small exhibition, although the paintings presented here are not small in vision or technique. They represent a history of travel with some local images. Time for some colour in your life.

The paintings are intensely bright, almost primary coloured, and make full use of acrylic paint’s qualities in that respect. They are well composed, finely detailed and make full use of perspective, reflections and depth, which is pleasing to the eye and draws the individual into the image. As a watercolour painter I am rather jealous of the intensity that’s been achieved, but then it’s materials for courses really.

I note from Keeler’s business card and a book of samples on the counter, that she is also an accomplished pet portraitist.

“As a little girl I always had a pencil in my hand, I was always drawing,” said Keeler on the source of her artistic inspiration and her route into art. “I used to go to bingo with my grandma and would keep myself occupied by drawing little pictures. And so it was an obvious thing to go to art college when I was at school.

“I got a degree in graphic design, but I actually ended up as a social worker. I didn’t touch a paint brush for many years but I was a handicraft instructor for the council. I always thought I’d go back to painting when I was retired, which I have.

Keeler explains that she lost her partner three years ago, so I had to rethink her life.

“Thank goodness for art. I’ve got some friends here from The Hub on Highfield Road, which has two art groups – lovely people. And then I joined Blackpool Arts Society because I wanted a platform to try and promote my work. I’ve had work in several exhibitions, this is my first opportunity to have a solo show. It’s been very exciting and here we are,” she smiles.

So what had led Lesley to adopt acrylic pants as her primary medium?

“I think it’s something I’ve always done, I’ve never really painted with oils or watercolours. At college it was either gouache for graphic design or acrylic. For me acrylic is easy to use, it’s with water and you can clean your brush and I just like the medium.” You can’t say fairer than that.

I take another turn around the images and check that I’ve got the photographs that I need. I also have a refreshing orange juice and sample the excellent vol au vents and other tasty nibbles.

There is a good and vivacious crowd in the cafe and the conversation is ringing round the walls. Thanks to the Tea Amantes team for as ever, for looking after us so well.

The clock ticked round and I was in good time to catch the service 61 bus home. The fare seemed to be only £1 – bargain!

Home and Away is on display until the 2nd June.

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    I have worked in the housing and transport professions for several local authorities, specialising in policy, strategy preparation and bid writing. Having always had an interest in film, the visual arts in general, theatre, music and lterature, I thought it would be good to combine the writing experience with these interests to contribute to altBlackpool. In addition to writing, my hobbies include watercolour and pastel painting, photography, woodwork, cycling and vegetable gardening.

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