This painting of Blackpool’s most famous landmark is a towering achievement for the man pictured behind – because artist Mark Aylott is severely sight impaired.
Even though registered blind, Mark, 47, has been able to produce several pieces of art celebrating Blackpool’s iconic tourist attractions, thanks to the support of retired art teacher Anthony Stuart.
Mr Stuart – who taught art at Poulton’s Baines School for many years – assists at activity and social sessions run at N-Vision, Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Society for the Blind, every Wednesday.
The former head of art, and respected artist and exhibitor in his own right, helped kindle Mark’s passion for painting using guiding lines produced from photographs of the Tower and the Big One, along with tips on what colours to use.
Mark admits he thinks big – particularly in the case of The Big One. He said: “Blackpool Pleasure Beach is my favourite place on earth and the first time I got a blank canvas in front of me I wanted to paint The Big One.”
Mark and his partner Sandra Singleton share a love of roller coasters and are regular visitors to the fun park.
Mark moved to Blackpool from Sussex where he used to work in computing. He says his sight was very poor as a result of congenital cataracts but deteriorated further after a detached retina.
“I took it hard but life goes on,” he said. “I met Sandra, a really lovely lady who lived next door to me, and I started coming here – to N-Vision – too.”
Mark stresses you don’t need sight to paint a picture.
He said: “I love riding roller coasters. You can hear the ride, feel the ride, there’s a lot of sensation involved. It gives you a picture in your mind’s eye.
“You can visualise it, more or less. It means such a lot when other people recognise what I’ve done and like my work.
“I’d encourage other people to try it. Don’t let sight loss stand in your way.”
He’s currently working on a painting of South Pier with the help of Mr Stuart, who said: “He’s a very good pupil. He listens, he pays attention, and he gets on with it.
“It’s a little bit like painting by numbers but far more difficult – and the results are really rather good.”