Angela Lilley


About Angela Lilley

I was born in Leek and was lucky to grow up within a nature-loving family who would take me out every weekend into the Staffordshire Moorlands and Peak District countryside. I enjoyed learning about the animals and wild flowers as well as the history of the local area, particularly The Roaches, where I spent many hours hoping to see a Wallaby!

It was through this that I developed an interest in art and photography; a desire to capture that fleeting moment in time where the light did something to make a scene even more beautiful and special.

Around 1988 I planned my first trip to The Lake District and I purchased a Praktica MTL5 film camera with 3 lenses. Although I hadn’t used a film camera much before, I read the instructions and, initially, felt they were far too complicated. How would I ever learn about everything the camera could do?

I tried my best and came away from my trip with some decent pictures but I thought I should have done better. I fell in love with The Lake District and I visit every year in February, continuing to expand my portfolio of images. Living within the beautiful Staffordshire Moorlands gave me opportunities to further develop my skills and I attended a couple of training events for landscape and portrait photography. These helped me to master some of the mysteries of my camera. We travel to Chichester on a regular basis as we have a boat in Chichester Marina. This is an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and gives the opportunity to photograph seascapes, wading birds, and nautical scenes at places such as East-head Beach, West Wittering, Dell Quay and the south coast areas. I truly am spoilt for choice with photo opportunities and look forward to the pandemic restrictions being lifted so that I can get back out there!

When I purchased my first digital camera it was wonderful to see the images that I had captured straight away so I could take the picture again if it wasn’t quite right. I always wanted to ‘get it right’ on the camera rather than learn the other mysterious art of ‘Photoshop’ which just seemed like spending too much time in front of a screen rather than being outdoors taking more pictures. My husband completed a Photoshop course and he is happy to do all of my editing and printing so I call him ‘the Printer Man.’

I was asked to cover a wedding by a work colleague in the early 1990s and said ‘yes’ which gave me a few sleepless nights wondering what I had let myself in for. After all, it was to be The Big Day for the couple and I could not get it wrong! I did quite a lot of research about the important, ‘must have’ shots. Taking the photos was relatively easy, however, organizing people was a challenge- trying to be as polite as possible, resisting the temptation to bark orders at people, e.g. the Aunt who did everything to avoid being on a photo, the Best Man who was drunk and kept disappearing, the small Bridesmaid who just would not look at the camera, let alone smile. It was a steep learning curve, however, I loved being part of the day and, since then, I have attended 2 wedding photography training events and photographed in excess of 450 weddings and counting.

My Workspace

My passion for photography has steadily developed into a business and has led to the establishment of my studio in Cruso Street, Leek. My dream was always to develop this into a work space to shoot portraits and commercial projects as well as a gallery-a place to sell my art work. Lynda Hyde, another talented Leek artist, also needed a work space for her artwork and furniture restoration (Revivals Furniture Art and Crafts) and she occupies the area that used to be the dark room. This works well since our art projects are very different but we can run joint open days, giving a good selection of art work for people to see and purchase. I have a reception downstairs which has just been fitted with wooden panelling so I can display pictures on the walls. I have adapted the reception area to accommodate a suitable backdrop for passport photography to ensure that people who struggle with stairs can still access my services/view pictures, etc.

Upstairs I have a large room which is set up with lighting and backgrounds for portraits and commercial photography. I have a mug press and sublimation printer to enable me to put images onto mugs. I have a large office which I use as a consultation area for customers. My wedding album samples are on hand to show to potential wedding couples. I also have some workspace in this room with mount cutting equipment. Lynda Hyde has 2 large rooms and there are toilets as well as on street parking.

My Involvement with Leek Open Studios and Leek Arts Trail

In order to make my work more visible and widely known I needed to let people know that I was here and for them to see my images displayed in the studio. This is the reason why I became involved in Leek Open Studios and the Leek Arts Trail. I had the chance to be part of the Leek community of art lovers and makers and to open my doors to welcome visitors. I love the variation of crafts and art work that the local artists and craft workers produce. It shows that Leek has a very talented group of small businesses who work together to put Leek and the Staffordshire Moorlands firmly on the map as a place to visit and purchase high quality products.

It was great to have visitors who were taking part in the Leek Arts Trail and to chat about my work. I even sold some canvas landscape pictures and photo gift ware. Many visitors had actually called at every venue on the Leek Arts Trail and the shops in town took part by featuring the work of the artists and makers in their windows. I was lucky to be able to display a large canvas image of a Highland Cow in the window of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust shop, for which I was very grateful.

My Work

At present my weddings and portraits have been on hold due to the pandemic, however, I have been occupied by a very exciting project which I consider it a great honour to have been involved with.

The new British Antarctic Survey ship, The RRS Sir David Attenborough, was being fitted out at the Cammell Laird shipyard at Birkenhead in 2019-2020. I was asked to quote for the printing and framing of more than 300 pictures that were to be displayed on the ship in the cabins, corridors, bar and bridge. I was really excited When my quote was accepted. We have now just completed the final images, many of which required processing and editing to enable printing as large as A1 and A2. There are some truly stunning images that have been donated by Sir David Attenborough, UK Space Agency (including pictures of Tim Peake outside the space station), British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, and Trinity House. Prince William and Kate Middleton attended the naming ceremony and a framed image of them is also installed on display on the ship. I was delighted to donate one of my own images of The Needles Lighthouse which is also on display. I have been lucky to have a tour around the ship before the Covid 19 pandemic. It is amazing with state of the art engineering and technology. It was such a pleasure to work with the ship’s Pursers, Rich Turner and Dave Bailey as well as Chief Engineer, Simon Wright.

My current project is to build up my stock of images and gift ware. I am just about to develop a range of coasters and place mats working closely with a British based company and will be regularly adding to these collections if they sell well.

How to Purchase My Work

I am not yet in a position to be at the studio/gallery full time so I advertise my pictures mostly on my Facebook page and web site at the moment. I am very approachable if anyone wishes to make an appointment to come and see what I have. I can take orders for different sized canvas or prints, frames, etc but can sell straight from the gallery if I have the picture in stock. I attend shows, wedding fayres and markets when possible and I am now in the process of developing a new ‘e’ commerce web site which will enable me to sell on line. Customers are welcome to contact me to discuss pictures, giftware and services and can order directly from me using direct bank transfers, pay pal or contactless transactions. I can post out pictures for an added cost or I can deliver locally. Pictures can be collected from my studio by arrangement with social distancing measures in place. I aim to be as flexible as possible to make purchasing easy for my customers.

As the Covid 19 restrictions lift I hope to run some open studio days and hope that the Leek Arts Trail will be able to take place next year so that people can come and visit.

Thank you for showing an interest and taking the time to read this.

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