Stephen Riley was born in Kent in 1955, and grew up in what is now Tameside in East Manchester. After a period working as an engineer, he switched to Fine Art, which he studied as a mature student. Starting in the 1980s, he completed a Dip. HE in Interdisciplinary Studies at Manchester Polytechnic (now Manchester Metropolitan University), before studying for a BA (Hons) in Fine Art at the University of Plymouth, an MA in Art & Architecture at Kent Institute of Art & Design in Canterbury, and a PhD in Fine Art at the University of Leeds.
He has since worked in various parts of the UK as practising artist, lecturer and writer on art and culture. He now lives once again in Tameside. His studio is in Mossley.
Of his work, Stephen says:
“If there is one consistent theme in my work it is ‘space’, which is considered in various ways, depending on the medium. My paintings are an ongoing abstract project, focusing on tensions within painting itself, particularly the contradiction between pictorial space and the picture surface. But other tensions are also considered; those between the accidental and the controlled, between chaos and order, and between the geometric and the formless, for example, reflecting my own conflicting impulses towards both the Romantic and the rational”.
He also uses photography. There is a commercial arm to this and a Fine Art one, which follows the ‘space’ theme referred to above. In this, urban space is considered as a place of communication between individuals, groups and corporate interests; where things people create or leave behind communicate values, desires, social tensions, and so on; and where, sometimes, the overload of visual stimuli now on the street creates unforeseen, perhaps unintended and often confusing messages.
Stephen has exhibited in many UK cities, including Manchester, London, Bristol, Exeter and Southampton, as well as in Germany and China. He has work in collections in the UK, USA and Continental Europe. He has had written items and/or photographs published in AN Magazine (Artists’ Newsletter), Dorset Life, Soanyway online magazine, The Guardian and Private Eye, amongst others. His novel ‘Barsteadworth College’ – a fictionalised account of workplace bullying within the British Higher Education system – was published in 2010.
If you are, or know of any local artists (painters, photographers, potters, sculptors, etc) located or based in and around Manchester please let us know, and if appropriate, we’ll try to include them. Contact us directly by email.