Former Sea Life Blackpool boss swaps fish for frames as he moves for the love of art
Blackpool leisure industry veteran Matthew Titherington, former boss of one of its popular attractions, is a stark example of “life shift” as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With Sea Life Blackpool being closed during lockdowns and tier three restrictions, Matthew has given up his job as general manager of the aquarium and rekindled his first love - art.
Along with wife Dawn, he has taken over Windermere Fine Art Gallery in the picturesque Lake District town – and given it a complete make-over by hand during the pandemic.
He explained: “Lockdown gave us all a chance to reflect, learn new skills and revisit hobbies. I decided it was time to follow my passion for art combined with my love of the Lake District. I saw lots of people re-engaging with their hobbies, dreams and creativity.”
Taking over from retiring owner Bill Dines, who had run the well-known gallery for 16 years, the couple have refurbished the established gallery and also opened a new second exhibition gallery on Beech Street. It aims to showcase the best of British contemporary artists, including those normally represented by London galleries, such as Haidee Jo Summers, Rob Poynton, Andrew Farmer, Michael Ashcroft, Steven Smith, Adam Ralston and Norman Long.
They include members of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Royal Society of Marine Artists and the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts.
He said: “The two galleries will allow us to show beautiful original art from varied artists, but also to work with local people and schools to encourage them to get out and have go and meet the artists through talks and demonstrations.”
The revamped gallery is now re-opening following the latest easing of restrictions and Matthew has used the time as an opportunity to arrange a new exhibition, featuring much of these artists’ latest original work, created during the pandemic.
Matthew’s love of art and inspiration for the life swap stemmed from his father, an established artist from Liverpool, who worked at Edge Hill University as head of art and design.
He had worked in the leisure industry for 30 years, many spent running busy attractions on Blackpool’s Golden Mile, for leading companies including First Leisure plc, Trevor Hemmings’ Leisure Parks and, in most recent years, Merlin Entertainments, the world’s second largest leisure corporation.
Matthew used his links to northern artists he knows, inviting the distinguished group of artists, known as the ‘Northern Boys’, to exhibit their latest work.
He added: “Steve Smith, one of the Northern Boys, has done an amazing job of attracting some of the most talented artists in the north to exhibit many of their new original works, created this year and inspired by the pandemic, in our gallery."
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