Artist’s exhibition ‘up there with best’

Robson Green with Francesca Simpson and her exhibition at Alnwick Playhouse.
Robson Green with Francesca Simpson and her exhibition at Alnwick Playhouse.

A north Northumberland artist has received all-round praise for her very successful exhibition at the Alnwick Playhouse.

Work by artist Francesca Simpson opened for viewing in late January and the venue was hoping for a ‘significant footfall’ from the show and wasn’t left disappointed.

Alnmouth Arts Festival 2014'Francesca Simpson'Picture Jane Coltman

Alnmouth Arts Festival 2014'Francesca Simpson'Picture Jane Coltman

Playhouse staff said that Francesca’s event was ‘up there’ with one of the best in terms of sales of prints and people through the door to see the display.

The 26-year-old is a self-taught artist best known for her detailed biro drawings on brown paper and acrylic landscape paintings of Northumberland.

She said she is influenced in equal measure by contemporary art and traditional techniques. She describes her style as ‘traditional realism with a contemporary feel’.

When Francesca found out how popular her display was, she said: “It’s quite exciting, I was just pleased to have the exhibition space like the Playhouse, which has such a high footfall.

“It was just about being seen by as many people as possible.

“I often put on little exhibitions and they’re tucked away but this is such a great central venue.

“With it being in Oscar season, as well as Robson Green being there, I think that’s what helped the showcase.

“It’s been great for local people to see my work, and with it being in such a great venue I even sold at least four pieces from people from further afield than Northumberland.”

The former Duchess High student gained her talents scribbling with Biro at school and went on to refine her skill as she progressed over the years.

Alnwick Playhouse manager Jo Potts said: “The fact that Francesca was an ex-Duchess High school student meant that she was the perfect person to have here because then it helps young artists who are aspiring to go professional.

“I think for us, linking up and supporting professional young artists is very important so we do that through the contemporary theatre work. We’re now trying to get that work supporting visual artists in the gallery space.

“Although we don’t have something that counts the people who come in, we found there was definitely interest in Francesca and people were making special trips to come see it, regardless of what was on in the theatre that day as well.”

Now the exhibition at the Playhouse is over, Francesca looks forward to her annual appearance at the Alnmouth Arts Festival in June but at the moment she is ‘snowed under’ with requests for pet portraits.

This is another side of Francesca’s work she is immensely proud of.

She said: “I’ve got such a long list of people who want their dog painted.

“What I like about it is that it makes people very emotional. They often cry when I’ve finished, which makes it so much more special.”

Francesca’s work can be ordered online at her website