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An artist's dream - Telford painter opens his first gallery

At the age of 70, Stephen Law has started his own business and fulfilled his dream of opening his own gallery.

Stephen Law in his gallery at Maws Craft Centre, Jackfield
Stephen Law in his gallery at Maws Craft Centre, Jackfield

The self-taught artist took up painting full-time around 12 years ago after retiring from his career as a teacher.

Now he is proudly displaying his artwork in a unit at Maws Craft Centre in Jackfield, which he shares with friend and craftsman Jiri Marek,who is the owner of Studio Number 10.

"He wanted a larger showroom for his stunning wooden home decor and asked me if I was interested in sharing. In two weeks and a lot of hard work we refurbished a unit at Maws Craft Centre so I was fortunate to realise my dream," explains Stephen, who lives in Stirchley.

Stephen outside his gallery

He has always had a passion for art but had struggled to find the time outside of teaching to pursue it until he retired.

"In 1985, I did a few paintings using gouache during one school summer holiday but once I was back at school teaching, I didn't have the time to dedicate to it," says Stephen, who spent 18 years teaching children with special educational needs.

"I retired from teaching when I was nearly 59. I always knew that one day I would paint. In 2010, I started with acrylics and that is my preferred medium, although I occasionally dabble with oils and watercolour.

"I've never had any formal training but you can learn at lot from YouTube videos and books. I'm forever experimenting - I love having a go at lots of different things," he adds.

At first, he admits he wondered if anyone would want to buy his work so he was pleasantly surprised when his pieces started receiving positive feedback and he was encouraged to start selling them.

When Jiri approached him to ask if he was interested in sharing a unit in Maws Craft Centre's Victorian courtyard, enabling Stephen to open a gallery, he jumped at the opportunity.

Craftsman Jiri Marek

"Jiri, who is from the Czech Republic and is a qualified scientist, has a showroom for his incredible products, made from reclaimed wood, which show his diversity and skill, and I have my gallery and a space for me to sit and paint.

I've quite enjoyed it so far. I had lots of visitors from different countries. I've had visitors from Singapore, Japan, Canada and Germany and it's nice to meet all these different people and get their feedback. There are many talented people at Maws - it is a gem in the Gorge," he tells Weekend.

From wildlife to landscapes and from portraits to abstract, Stephen says he enjoys to paint "whatever takes my fancy" and he looks for inspiration in the world around him.

"I'm inspired by lots of different things. I can see the beauty in scenery and the different seasons, whatever the weather is doing.

"Sometimes I will walk into the town park or got to a National Trust place like Attingham Park and take lots of photos to inspire me.

"Some paintings are quite realistic, some could be classed as expressionistic and others certainly abstract. I hope I bring a sense of joy to the audience."

Over the past two years, Stephen has held several exhibitions at The Bear Steps Gallery in Shrewsbury and has displayed work Ludlow Art Society's exhibition and The Angel Gallery in Broseley.

"At one of my exhibitions in Shrewsbury, someone asked me if the paintings were all by different artists because they were all so different and I told them they were just by me.

"I think if I was doing the same thing all the time, it would be very boring," he tells Weekend.

"Among my first paintings in the gallery were an abstract, an autumn scenes, two charcoal drawings and a watercolour. All my paintings are a challenge, but a happy and exciting one."

Painting is a rewarding past time for Stephen who says he never runs out of ideas and inspiration.

"Painting is my escape from what's going on in the world. It's good to be busy all the time. I enjoy getting lost in a painting.

"Sometimes I know exactly how it's going to turn out and other times, especially with watercolours, they do their own thing, I have to see where it takes me," says Stephen.

"I'm not expecting to make a fortune from my art but I enjoy doing it and that's the main thing."

S M Law Art and Studio Number 10 are located at Unit C17. For more information, visit www.stephenmlaw.co.uk or www.studionumber10.co.uk

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