This month sees us celebrating Yorkshire Day. Our glorious county offers us some amazing views. Yorkshire watercolour artist Ashley Jackson has been proudly showcasing the stunning landscapes of Yorkshire in his beautiful and evocative paintings for decades, opening his first gallery back in 1963. Here we catch up with him to find out a little about his life, art and his love affair with Yorkshire.
Ashley Jackson’s love of art and painting was developed from an early age. He told us about the people who inspired him as a youngster to pursue his talent “I had two inspirational teachers Ms Gertrude Young, form tutor who inspired me in English and poetry and Miss Netherwood my art teacher at Holyrood Catholic School. It was the headmaster of this school Mr Livsey that collected all my artwork and sent me with my portfolio in hand to be interviewed at Barnsley Art School. Outside of school, Miss Hayden a retired art teacher from the girl’s school discovered my talent when I was 15. She was the owner of the local art shop in Barnsley where I purchased my paints and had my works framed. She recognised something within my paintings and encouraged me by acting as a tutor and mentor. I am not a self- taught artist, I was provided with the foundation to art with life drawing, lettering on glass and glass gilding.”
When asked about Yorkshire and his love affair with it he told us “To capture the landscapes and seascapes of the earth and more particular, Yorkshire has been my vocation since I was nine years old. I look upon it as a calling and so treat it with the reverence it deserves. I have strived throughout my life to witness and portray every mood swing of nature as she takes a stand against all that the elements throw at her, whether that be rain, wind, snow or fire.
“Artists paint what inspires them, what allows them to capture what they see with their eyes with their hands and heart. We all have differing inspirations, mediums and connections with our subject – mine is the Yorkshire Moors.
“I seem morbid, but I have always had my inner self, in other words my soul. I have been fortunate to have this passion and light in life. When I stand alone on the moors I do believe there is some controlling force whether that be God, Mother Nature or just a Spirit and as such I explain that painting on the moor is akin to working in the great cathedral of the open air where the sky and the moor form a colourful tapestry of rich Yorkshire tweed cloth. It is a privilege that I do not take for granted.
“Not only is the Yorkshire landscape unique to the location but so is the weather. I know that sunshine would allow me to sell more paintings, but that is not what appeals to me. Shadows from the clouds create shapes and contour the moorland whereas sunshine flattens the light, losing the depth to the surrounding environment. I wish to follow in Turner’s footsteps and chase the light in my paintings. Yes, rain restricts your market, but I have always said that I wish to paint paintings and not pictures, to do this I need to remain true to myself and paint from my soul thus enabling me to create atmosphere and passion in my paintings. I hope that when someone views my paintings they will understand this enigmatic quality, as the atmosphere contained in the watercolour often feels like it has a tangible quality.”
Ashley’s passion for our county is certainly evident within his stunningly distinct paintings which can be seen in his gallery in Holmfirth. Another more unusual place that his paintings can be seen is the Grand Central train named ‘Ashley Jackson – The Yorkshire Artist’! Named in 2011, all five carriages of the train contain his watercolour paintings. To celebrate Yorkshire Day, Ashley travelled on the train from Bradford to London Kings Cross where, upon arrival, he provided some painting demonstrations on the concourse for travellers whilst white roses were handed out as a symbol of the warmth and hospitality awaiting those who may wish to visit Yorkshire! Ashley hopes the event was seen as an invitation to ‘come and see the wonderful landscape, visit the galleries and for people to immerse themselves in our cultural heritage.’ The Ashley Jackson train is used as part of the regular Grand Central rail service from Bradford to Kings Cross with station calls at Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Wakefield, Pontefract Monk Hill, Doncaster and London.
As time draws on, he shows no signs of hanging up his brushes, this is truly a life- long calling for the artist who has exhibited worldwide and whose paintings grace the walls of many famous people including former US President Bill Clinton. He says “As I reach 76 I am fortunate that I still have a love affair with Yorkshire and until that ends I will carry on painting her contours. I hope that this inner feeling lasts a lifetime, as the moorland never fails to amaze me; I still get that wow feeling when I step on to the moor, when the hair on the back of my neck stands up as a storm approaches.”
For more information on Ashley Jackson, visit his website
For more information on the Ashley Jackson train: visit
Ashley Jackson Gallery
13/15 Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth, Huddersfield HD9 2JR