Art Trail's Alfie is a National photography star!

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The artistic talent of a Leigh teenager has caught the eye of legendary photographer Martin Parr, who has chosen an image by Belfairs Academy pupil Alfie Winters to be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery.

“Stoned & Plastered” - a shot of a man standing outside an ornament dealers near London’s Columbia Road - was selected from hundreds of entries and now takes its place in Parr’s acclaimed exhibition “Only Human” at the gallery just off Trafalgar Square.

Alfie, whose photographs will also be showcased locally in June during the Leigh Art Trail, said: “I’m beyond speechless. I truly cannot believe that at 15 years old I have my image on display in such an iconic gallery in London. The fact that Martin Parr has even looked at my photos is amazing enough.”

It is easy to see why Parr was drawn to Alfie’s work. Parr’s “Only Human” show at the National Portrait Gallery focuses on wry, affectionate observations of Britishness and British identity. Many of Alfie’s photographs share the humour and quirkiness of Parr’s - a remarkable achievement considering the youngster is still doing his GCSEs. 

“I mostly photograph street scenes,” added Alfie, who has never studied photography at school and is completely self-taught. “I’ve always been obsessed with people-watching, which perhaps is an odd thing for a 15-year-old boy, but that’s me!

“The picture came about on a trip to Brick Lane. It just looked like an interesting scene that needed to be captured, so I quickly got out my phone and shot the photo while walking by. 

“I posted it on Instagram and the National Portrait Gallery sent me an email saying I’d been shortlisted. That was a shock. Then two days later, while I was in class at school, they got in touch again to say my photo was being framed and put on display.”

On top of that achievement, Alfie is about to become the youngest ever artist to exhibit on the Leigh Art Trail, having been selected this year from nearly 100 new applicants.

Mixed-media painter Emma Bell, from gallery 70 The Broadway, said: “Alfie first applied for the Trail when he was 14. We had no idea how old he was, but it was obvious he had a natural eye and he was one of the few photography applicants not presenting images of the estuary.

“There was an inconsistency in the style, which made me think he was young. I invited him to show in my gallery and he really impressed me with his attitude and his body of work. He came to meetings on his own, was always prompt and polite, he asked questions and welcomed advice.

“I’m thrilled his talent has been recognised by Martin Parr and soon visitors to the Leigh Art Trail will be able to see what all the fuss is about, too.” 

Alfie’s photograph that caught the eye of legendary photographer martin parr

Alfie’s photograph that caught the eye of legendary photographer martin parr

There’s a fantastic buzz for 2019

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Excitement is building for the 23rd Leigh Art Trail, which takes over our town from Saturday, June 8, showcasing the beautiful work of more than 60 painters, ceramicists, sculptors and photographers.

A host of surprises await the thousands of visitors who pour into Leigh each year for the popular event, including the launch of a dedicated Children’s Art Trail and the biggest public art installation the town has ever seen in the Library Gardens.

The Leigh Art Trail’s Wendy Scotland said: “There is a fantastic buzz for 2019 as our community’s shops, cafes, churches - and even railway stations - become pop-up galleries for eight days.

“We’re especially looking forward to seeing what Andrew Haines - who brought us the incredible Sculpture Street in 2017 - has in store for us in the Library Gardens. He’s not given us much idea what it is, other than it’s big!”

The Art Trail is an opportunity to explore Leigh and meet the artists, discuss their work and watch demonstrations. Details of which artists are exhibiting and where to find them are revealed in the free Trail Guide, which is already available across Leigh.

Wendy added: “People can discover where their favourite artists are going to be and also see the exciting artists who are new to the Trail this year. We have 11 of those and we can’t wait to introduce them to our visitors.”

The Children’s Art Trail (CAT) is a new venture to get youngsters more involved in the week.

Families should head to Leigh Library, Two Tree Gallery or 70 The Broadway and collect a CAT pack, which highlights some special venues to visit and space to answer questions about the amazing art on show there.

CAT selfie points are dotted along the route for those who fancy sharing photos of themselves enjoying the Trail.

Once again, the Trail features a Secret Auction. Every artist has donated a piece of work and these will be on show and awaiting bids in the venues. The Trail is a not-for-profit organisation and all proceeds go towards keeping alive this highlight of the Leigh cultural calendar.

Wendy said: “It’s a case of pick your favourite piece, fill in a card, post it in the Secret Auction box and if you’re the highest bidder on Saturday, June 15, you’ll be going home with a stunning piece of original work!”

For those who want a more hands-on experience during Art Trail week, a series of events is lined up. There are two contrasting workshops in the Library Gardens - street art with Scotty Brave on Sunday June 9 from 1pm, and watercolour sketching on Friday June 14.

The Leigh Art Trail Guide has details on all the other activities going on throughout what promises to be another wonderful week.

For more information, contact Leigh Art Trail publicity coordinator Joe Scotland at leigharttrail0@gmail.com