George Parker-Conway has been a Venture Arts artist for the past 11 years, having joined our studio when he was only 12 years old. A talented portrait artist, George is passionate about illustration, typography and graphic design. He also pursues a strong interest in women’s rights and the great feminist characters who pushed forward the movement. We spoke to him to find out more.
Why do you come to Venture Arts?
“I love art and Venture Arts has helped me develop my art a lot. It makes me feel relaxed, excitement and it’s a form of escapism for me and takes away my worries and stresses. When we can be in the studio it is a really lively environment. I don’t go out a lot but I enjoy the studio environment. The tutors are really lovely people, they are so encouraging. It’s a lot like a family.”
What is your art about?
“A lot of my work is to do with portraits, mainly actors and actresses. I have done a portrait of William Shakespeare and Emmeline Pankhurst. The research about people is an important factor in my work, the historical context and studying and reading about that person. I like looking at pieces of artwork and trying to get the sense of what the messages are in the work, and the history that informs it.”
Tell us more about how you became interested in Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragettes?
“I remember learning about women’s rights in Year 9 at school. I became very interested in the suffragettes and what they did. I feel inspired by what these women went through to make things change. I saw a film about them and got the DVD and then when I did a Cultural Enrichment Programme with the People’s History Museum I learned more. I’m also really interested in how different women’s rights are in different countries today.”
In 2020 George was commissioned by Manchester Histories to create a portrait of Alf Morris, the MP who pioneered the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (CSDPA). To mark the 50-year anniversary of this landmark legislation, Manchester Histories held an online festival, ‘DigiFest’, for which George also created the brand identity and illustrations.
How did you feel about working with Manchester Histories DigiFest?
“I’m very proud that I had my work shown in Manchester Histories Digifest and that I was asked to design the graphics for the event with Graphic designer David Caunce. It was really great to see my work on a big scale at the opening of Manchester Digifest and featured throughout on a huge board, at one point Andy Burnham was stood in front of it and was delivering a talk about the event, it was very surreal.”
How would you like your artistic practise to develop in the future?
“I really enjoyed being commissioned by Manchester Histories and would love to get more of that type of work. I like graphic design and branding work. I enjoy working with people to get an end result that they’re happy with.”
George has recently completed an online placement at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, as part of Venture Arts’ Cultural Enrichment Programme. He produced a series of portraits of Gaskell family members, as well as a blog about his experience for their website which you can read here.
If you would like to commission George for a project please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 232 1223.