Livewire - January 7

By Blackpool-trained artist Patricia Lee, whose Mandy Mandela Superlambanana is featured on BBC2's The Culture Show on January 18

I was totally thrilled to be asked to do a Lambanana – but when Mandy Mandala Superlambanana topped the auction in September and was sold for 25,000 to Phil Redmond it was beyond my wildest dreams!

I spent my formative years in Blackpool, moving there when I was seven, and staying until my mid-20s, studying an Ordinary National Diploma and Higher National Diploma in Graphic Design at Blackpool and the Fylde College.

Now almost 20 years later my nephew studies photography there!

I specialise in indoor and outdoor artworks, and do commissions, but also work in schools and on projects across the North West as a community artist, and am passionate about getting children involved in art.

I sometimes think they believe artists are people who lived a long time ago. When they find out you're an artist and that's what you do for a living, it makes it all seem more real and they can't wait to share their creative ideas with you. As a student I was featured in The Gazette's Aim for Art Design A Poster competition to encourage others to get involved in art! I created a three colour paper collage and won 400 of Daler Rowley Art equipment.

I initially intended to study art for two years but stayed for four.

My tutor Derek Johnson was the first to point out that I had a strong sense of form and colour.

His words made a massive impact on me and his encouragement really gave me belief in my creative skills.

He pointed out that you don't necessarily have to be good at drawing to be a great artist – which was a total revelation to me at the time and the inspiration that would take me through my studies and onto my career in art.

Another college tutor Barry Foster, who used to commute to Blackpool daily from the Lake District, was an incredible artist and very encouraging - a great inspiration.

Teaching art is more about bringing something out than putting something in. Inspiring kids to think and make their ideas reality is what I'm most passionate about.

The auction of Mandy was a real affirmation of the standard of my work. The fact she has become part of Liverpool's heritage and people enjoy looking at something I've created is enormously flattering.

n To see Patricia's new work, visit the Firbob and Peacock Art Gallery, 76 King Street, Knutsford, from Friday to February 12. For more info visit www.patricialee.co.uk