BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting Graduates & Tutors

“Painting at [University Centre] St Helens is a hidden treasure that the wider institutions should understand as a great success in terms of student attainment.”

Dr Magnus Quaife, Programme Leader BA (Hons) Fine Art, Manchester Metropolitan University.


Katherine Hickey

Chloe Pennington

Emma Wood

Nicola Bolton

Shannon Moore

Rosie Shaw

Dr James Quin
Programme Leader

Wayne Robinson
Module Leader

Steve Strode
Module Leader

Fiona Stirling
Module Leader

Amy Robinson
Module Leader

Ian Greenall
Curriculum Manager

BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting Folios


Katherine Hickey, BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting

My current painting practice is underpinned by an interest in the history of ‘The Grotesque and The Abject’ in western Art and culture. By borrowing visual elements from images of the internal and external body, my work releases thoughts of mortality, decay, personal fears and vulnerability. I incorporate these elements into ‘sculptural paintings’, which I consider to be ‘hybrid objects’. These objects are intended to be visually reminiscent of bodily accretions, growths, wounds, mutated organs and genitalia.

My work has been been influenced by contemporary and modern artists – in particular Doreen Garner, who represents wounded and dissected body parts, and Eva Hesse, who re-imagines the body, while representing sexual forms with a degree of ambiguity. Hesse, along with other post-minimalist practitioners who explored the theme of ‘The Abject ‘during the 1960’s have inspired my decisions in terms of materiality. I have chosen to utilise non-traditional materials – experimenting with mediums such as insulation foam, oil paint, acrylic, beads, string, latex, floor varnish, rags and tights to create visually interesting and obscure hybrids.

My dissertation research assisted in the development of my painting practice. After analysing works by Renaissance and Baroque painters, I was also inspired to create more traditional, flat-surface paintings. When creating two dimensional paintings of my hybrids, I employ the traditional process of grisaille (achromatic under-painting), which I then develop with glazes of semi-transparent colour. This process enables me to work more intricately, and with focus, to create the illusion of three-dimensionality. Working from dimly lit photographs makes for an image charged with mood, influenced by the chiaroscuro of the Baroque period.

The hybrids and paintings are to be seen together, allowing the viewer to experience an understanding of my processes and sources. By doing this, I intend the hybrid pieces and the flat paintings to enter into dialogue with one another, to open up an interesting conversation between the traditions of the grotesque in painting, and painting that enters an ‘expanded field’.

Chloe Pennington, BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting

My paintings have various contextual components which, when developed and combined, make for a wide range of abstract paintings. Key factors in my painting is the use of memory, scale, and colour in order to create a variety of diverse works that remain true to the concepts behind them.

Each painting always contains a meaning and/or a story, although my intention is for this to remain ambiguous to the viewer. These abstract paintings attempt to communicate these meanings, albeit without resorting to figuration or an explicit narrative. Memories, belongings and personal experiences that I have an emotional connection to, assists me in achieving an outcome that fits my intentions for each painting’s ‘subject matter’.

The use of an appropriate colour palette plays a vital role in being able to realise the idea to its full potential. All my colour palettes are carefully chosen , they all include colour associations that align the ideas and memories behind each painting with the physical representation shown on the canvas. The processes used to apply paint are highly significant. Having a certain style when applying the paint has been key to the development of my syntax as a painter. I use layers of paint repeatedly to ensure that the paint becomes ‘three-dimensional’ crossing over into a sculptural way of painting. Using this approach adds an additional effect of the paint ‘growing’ out of the canvas. When using the entirety of the canvas (and its edges), I think about the painting’s viewer and how this will change the way they view my work; it forces them to look around the sides and walk around the paintings, ensuring that they are something to be viewed over time, not ignored.

Emma Wood, BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting

My practice concerns itself with the nature of darkness and light. In painting, I aim to express the effects that light has on the visual world when it collides with spaces and places submerged in darkness. This project originated from my personal fear of darkness which, through this project, has developed into both a fascination and admiration for both opposites as we encounter them in the history of painting.

Through the process of painting, I employ subtle, suggested imagery, to represent the way objects become visually indeterminate, depending on surrounding lighting. I work strictly with black and white, allowing the colour within the black to be revealed by the white paint. When painting, I begin with a completely black even surface. I then draw the image with white before blending it into the black. Once the image has been blended in, I repeat the process until I find that the image is visible but retains a ghostly uncertainty.

This process aims to recreate the sensation of opening one’s eyes in complete darkness, only to have your eyes adjust slowly to see your surroundings. This approach is similar to Ad Reinhardt’s Abstract Painting (1963) in the sense that your eyes literally have to adjust to see the image. I want to capture a brief moment when the world is not completely visible, and the familiar becomes new and strange.

Nicola Bolton, BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting

My aim is to produce paintings that oscillate between two distinct disciplines – painting and sculpture, while considering the ways in which light falls onto a variety of surfaces and modulates their colour.

My paintings explore actual, not illusory space. This a subject Donald Judd discussed in his pivotal essay Specific Object. Judd stated that, “Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface” (Judd, 1965).

My intention is to create artworks that instigate a physical response from their audience. Specifically, this involves the movement of the viewer’s body in space, in order to explore all five sides of my paintings, and for the viewer to experience the appearance and presence of reflected light from a variety of materials used on each surface.

I experiment with fluorescent paint on the chamfered side of my painting’s support. The fluorescent paint, when hit by light, creates vibrantly coloured reflections alongside my painting. Pushing this idea even further, I rub back the paint around the edge of the front surface uncovering my background colour; this creates an effect similar to light escaping from the interior of a box. The use of coloured Perspex also lets the light through the material and produces effects that could not occur with paint alone. Using blocks of wood and re-purposed ‘non-art’ material such as a de-constructed door, is my ‘take’ on traditional sculpture, with inspiration from Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades and Robert Rauschenberg’s hybrid combines.

Light and shadow as it changes throughout the day intrigues me – the way architectural spaces change as the light fluctuates, and how fixtures and fittings such as doors, windows and architraves modulate as the light changes, fascinates me. I continuously work through these ideas in order to investigate the interaction of light between the object, the viewer and their shared environment.

Shannon Moore, BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting

My painting explores spatial encounters informed by photography, collage, projection, drawing, paint, and the production of three-dimensional models. Using these processes, I have produced a body of work that focuses on a number of internal architectural spaces that invite, so to speak, ‘the viewer in’. Photographs taken of doorways, corridors, staircases are collaged into my own three dimensional architectural models along with selected paintings from chosen artists that relate to my theme of ‘space’.

This use of three dimensional models in an attempt to articulate space has allowed me to build on previous skills and techniques developed in my second year at St Helens. The models play with people’s perceptions; they enable my work to be less illustrative, therefore leaving it up to the viewer to wonder. The models allow me to have a lack of preciousness with my paintings. This allows me to explore the medium and tools to their full potential by scratching and rubbing into the paint. For me, the process of working from the models excites me. They allow my paintings to become more interesting, enabling me to be much freer with paint – I am not trying to directly copy an image, and don’t worry about being too realistic.

Working from these models, I began to use colour more effectively and explore the compositional potential of the constructed models. The colours used in my paintings are based on the colours of the collaged models. I don’t directly copy the colours used in the model, however, I use them as a guide. The models are very different from the paintings; I elevate my paintings beyond the model by playing with perceptions of scale, colour, and including extra atmosphere. I try to create something that has its own mood – not overly descriptive so that the viewer is prompted to ask questions about the nature of illusory space in painting.

Rosie Shaw, BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting

The Dark Mirror

“It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.”

John Berger.

In the ‘The Dark Mirror’ project, my work has been an investigation into the darker themes and tropes of the mirror motif in painting. Once a rare and expensive object – the mirror today is part of our everyday lives and is generally ignored. For thousands of years, the mirror as an object has been associated with gods and goddesses, mystics, magic, the sins of pride and vanity, secrets, self-examination, duality and sex, and has appeared as a symbolic motif in painting since Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait in the Fifteenth-Century. My painting, however, explores this motif in a much more contemporary and detailed fashion – a silent witness to the darker side of the dramas and events that unfold behind the closed doors of contemporary society.

My painting employs a variety of processes and techniques. Drawing has been an important part of the process, capturing reflections from a variety of reflective surfaces around the home, but more often from windowpane glass.At its heart, my work is about ‘seeing’ and personal symbolism. I began with exploring how people see me, the judgements they make, and whether they actually ‘see’ me or just the role I adopt when at work or in the home. I then began to explore reflections and what we ‘read’ within the distortions and the pseudo-reality presented to us by the mirror – by these heterotopic spaces. I have been, and continue to be interested in the dialogue between my interpretation of the image and the dialogue between the image and the viewer. It is the conversation, as Berger stated, within which ‘what we see and what we know is never settled.’

BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting Gallery

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