A TALENTED artist has told how his work as a carer has enriched his paintings of stunning North-East landscapes.

Michael Horner, 44, leads a busy double life in Teesdale, spending mornings as a domiciliary carer, and afternoons working on commissions as an artist.

And he believes that his caring role has inspired him to greater artistic heights because listening to people’s stories gives him a greater insight into life in County Durham.

“When you’re a carer, you build relationships with people who depend on you, and it definitely helps give a deeper appreciation of the area. In Teesdale, I care for a lot of retired farmers and it’s particularly interesting to understand their connection to the landscape,” said Michael.

He started working for Dale Care last October and his role includes providing personal care, including supporting medication, and preparing meals.

But he also has a lifelong passion for art and his work has featured in a number of exhibitions, most recently at The Witham in Barnard Castle.

A former art lecturer, he recalls the 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two being a pivotal moment in his artistic life.

“It made me see how the country had emerged from the darkness of the war years and, from then on, I wanted my art to capture the human journey through shadow and light,” he said.

Originally from Buckinghamshire, Michael came to Eggleston, in Teesdale, six years ago to care for his father – the Reverend David Horner – who has since died from emphysema.

“I’ve come to love the countryside in this part of the world because there are greater contrasts in the light and dark than in the south,” he said.

Michael plans to use his next exhibition – at the Old Well in Barnard Castle from August 22 – to launch an art competition to inspire more people to express themselves creatively.

He hopes to encourage some of those he cares for to enter the competition, which will be sponsored by Dale Care, with artists’ materials as the prize.

Carol Jackson, Dale Care’s Marketing and Communications Manager, said: “We are really proud to see Michael’s art being enhanced by his work as a carer – and that has inspired us to support the competition.”

  • To see more of Michael’s work, search for ‘Artlife by Michael’ on Facebook.