AN exhibition of work by two local artists has gone in display at Arts Centre Washington.

Neither Tanja Vukasinovic-Powell nor George Fearon have had their work displayed before and both were able to focus on their artwork during Covid restrictions.

Tanja was born in Stockport but now lives in Washington and was a regular at the arts centre before the exhibition opened last week.

“I often pop in to see the exhibitions, but never dreamt I would have my own work on show. It doesn’t feel quite real, but it’s given my confidence a real boost. I’ve had all sorts of health problems over the last few years so that’s made this even sweeter for me.”

Tanja was diagnosed with autism and she thinks her autism allows her to ‘hyper-focus’ on her artwork.

“My designs are very intricate and I have to hyper-focus over a long period of time to complete each piece. I work six or seven hours a day over a fortnight to finish a piece, so its intense,” she explained.

Her work takes inspiration from patterns in nature and architectural design: “I love looking at church windows and old buildings, they inspire me.”

Tanja studied art at school, but only re-ignited her love of art in recent years. Originally she only worked in black and white, but now works in colour too.

“I was frightened of colour, I was really worried about using it and only felt comfortable using black and white. That changed when friends suggested I use a bit of colour. I started adding gold in my work and then added more colours to my palette and now I love working in colour. I’m a black and white sort of person so this was a big thing for me,” said Tanja.

Like Tanja, George studied art at school and then went through a period when he wasn’t producing art.

“I completed an O-Level and then an A-Level in art and was then accepted in to the Royal College of Art – but I didn’t go. I decided to park art and got really into music instead,” said George.

He played in a series of bands and also performed as a solo singer songwriter, occasionally designing album covers for other bands and artists. He continues to work as a musician, playing in an Animals tribute band.

“I suppose I kept my hand in by designing these album covers, but I was really able to refocus on art during the lockdowns. Obviously any gigs I had were cancelled so I spent a lot of time painting.

“I started with landscapes and then started producing far more psychedelic material. I love the work of Picasso, Dali, Bosch and the Impressionists – and am inspired by all of these greats.”

A friend of George’s approached Arts Centre Washington suggesting George could have an exhibition: “I was gobsmacked when they said yes,” he said.

He’d already completed a number of paintings, but painted four more specifically for the exhibition.

“My work is inspired by nature, in particular about the effect of climate change on our planet,” he added.

Matt Blyth, Audience Development Officer at Arts Centre Washington, said: “This exhibition features two very different local artists but I think their styles really complement each other, Tanja with her unbelievably intricate pencil and ink work and George with his big bold surreal scenes and vibrant colours. We are extremely excited to be the first gallery to display their works and I think it’s going to be really popular with our audiences.”

The exhibition will be on display until Friday, January 21, to find out more visit http://www.artscentrewashington.co.uk