A Bolton artist who followed in the footsteps of his hero is set to share a major exhibition with the town’s most famous artistic son.
James Naughton was inspired by Bolton-born Thomas Moran after seeing his iconic landscape ‘Nearing Camp, Evening On The Upper Colorado River, Wyoming’ hanging in Bolton Museum and Art Gallery in 1998.
The council had just acquired the majestic oil painting and Naughton was instantly impressed by Moran’s work.
Thanks to Arts Council funding, Naughton was able to retrace the expedition Moran completed in 1871 to the Yellowstone area of the American West.
The result is a fantastic exhibition at Bolton Museum, featuring more than 50 new works by Naughton sharing gallery space with some of Moran’s pieces – including the painting which sparked Naughton’s creative journey.
The exhibition, entitled Naughton and Moran: Paintings of the American West, opens at Bolton Museum on Saturday, March 1 and runs until Sunday, November 16.
As the museum’s main exhibition for 2014, Naughton and Moran features several large scale oils, sketches in oil, preparatory works, drawings and prints as well as photographs by Naughton’s friend Andrew Hodgson, who accompanied him on his journey capturing his progress.
There will also be a number of family-friendly and interactive activities throughout the run of the exhibition, including a drawing station to encourage future artists and a film of Naughton at work.
Although clearly inspired by Moran, and having undertaken the same epic journey through Yellowstone National Park, Naughton’s work doesn’t replicate his hero’s. His paintings are interpretations of what he has seen, rather than actual landscapes, and were all created at his studio back home in Bolton.
Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Councillor Anthony Connell, said: “The Naughton and Moran exhibition has been eagerly awaited by everyone involved and visitors will instantly recognise that this is something special.
“James’ down-to-earth approach and inarguable talent are what makes this exhibition worth considering. It has been fantastic for James to follow in the footsteps of his hero and especially poignant for us to host this exhibition as it was in Bolton Museum where he made his initial connection with Moran.
“To have two magnificent Bolton artists sharing gallery space, whose work spans several generations, is a unique opportunity for us and we look forward to inspiring future generations of painters over the next few months.”
James Naughton said: “This will be the first major exhibition of my paintings in my home town of Bolton, after working as a professional artist for sixteen years, and to have my paintings seen alongside those of such a major influence on my work makes the whole project very special to me.
“Thomas Moran has been like a teacher to me, he’s already given me a painting lesson. I’ve looked at the way he uses paint to evoke an experience. By seeing the sources of his great works I got the second half of the lesson, not just about painting but also the true nature of his art.”
Bolton Museum is open seven days a week and admission is free. Visit their website for more details.