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About Paul

 

 

My father, Lawrence Stangroom, was an artist/ illustrator - and a huge influence in my life. I have been painting for as long as I can remember. From an early age, my father ‘Lawrie’ showed me the traditional techniques he had learned at art school. Later, I realised how highly regarded he was among his peers and how lucky I am to have had a thorough grounding in traditional methods from such a talented man. 
 
Growing up in Washington, Tyne and Wear, I watched small villages, based around the coalmines and surrounded by woods and farms, being torn down or in-filled with factories. It made me acutely aware of how quickly we can lose things that I consider to be of real value. This has affected me tremendously and therefore the kinds of things I paint. Well-built homes were demolished, replaced in many cases with so-called ‘modern’ houses and apartments often called, `shoe boxes with windows`. The surrounding countryside was transformed into a ‘New Town`. Land and farms were lost forever, replaced by motorways and shopping malls. While I watched the landscape around me alter, my parents took us on trips to the moors and dales of the North Pennines and the highlands of Scotland. I was drawn to the wild, remote parts of these landscapes.
 
‘A’ levels and art school occupied the next six years, and I spent time in London and Sunderland. During this time, l explored different mediums and techniques, particularly silkscreen and etching. The themes of buildings, loss and change were significant to the images that I was making. 
 
The Himalayas had a huge impact on me during my first visit in 1980. I was in awe of the scale and grandeur of the mountains and the resilience, fortitude and hospitality of the local people. This was the start of my Himalayan series. A bursary from The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation in Canada allowed me to return to paint and explore for two years. I have been back to gather source material for my paintings many times since. 
 
Moving to Northumberland rekindled my love of the moors and fells. At first, I was very interested in painting the wild open spaces but I have become increasingly interested in the abandoned, often derelict small farms and cottages that I come across while wandering the fells. Wherever one travels in the uplands of The Pennines, there is evidence of mining, although nature is reclaiming what remains.
 
I will never know the people who lived and worked in the farms, mines or quarries, but I find it very poignant to look out of the windows, seeing what they would have seen. Some houses have furniture left in them and this gives a very strong sense of the former inhabitants. Standing in the living rooms of some of these old homes with the cast iron range intact, I can only guess what day-to-day life was like. Questions arise in my mind about how many meals were cooked, how many births, deaths and marriages took place? Was it a happy home? I paint these places exactly as I find them, leaving others to imagine their own stories for the images.  I try to create this sense of place as accurately and clearly as I can: my hope is that whoever looks at the paintings will be affected by the places in the same way. My paintings take time to create and often I will wait a number of years before I paint certain images, and yet I start others almost immediately, because of the strong impact they have on me. 

 

The Whitby Abbey series came about as part of an archeological study undertaken by English Heritage to record the structure of the Abbey. I was asked to record sections of the medieval stone carvings. This involved working off a scaffold, often high up in the Abbey. The paintings were precisely measured and actual size. It was challenging work, often delayed due to adverse weather conditions. I did the drawings on site in the summer and painted them in the studio, using photographs for colour.
 
In 2014, I realised a cherished ambition of having my own gallery. I have turned a discarded shop unit into a fine art gallery, studio and home. There is nothing formal about my spacious gallery, which is open to welcome art-lovers as they browse my work and to my students on art classes.

 

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