Pendle and Ribble Valley art teacher's work chosen for prestigious Royal Academy exhibition

Michael and Dawn in front of the Royal Academy of Arts where his painting is part of the 250th anniversary exhibition.
Michael and Dawn in front of the Royal Academy of Arts where his painting is part of the 250th anniversary exhibition.
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A painting, which an artist started work on in 2001, is among the 250th exhibition at London's Royal Academy of Arts this summer.

And the picture, known simply as Love, was snapped up by a buyer for £2,000.

Michael's painting Love

Michael's painting Love

The image of a teddy bear lying in a pool of blood began life as a sketch by Earby artist Michael Kirkbride.

Inspired by tragedy in his own family, the striking piece was eventually painted in 2003 and Michael has modified it over the years.

It was Dawn, Michael's wife of 27 years, who entered the painting into the exhibition.

And Love was one of 1,200 chosen for the exhibition from an astonishing 24,000 paintings entered.

Michael said: "I have never been any good at promoting my work and if it were up to me I would never have been entered.

"But I am pleased with the outcome and I may enter again next year."

Michael, who used to teach at Burnley College, now runs private art classes in Colne and Clitheroe.

He began an art degree foundation course in the 1960s but dropped out and lived on the streets and in communes for several years.

He eventually completed his degree in 2003 after leaving behind a succession of jobs including working as a grave digger, roofer, foundry man, sales director and designer, art restorer and mural painter.

Indeed, the eye catching mural adorning the side of the wall outside the Co-op in Colne is all Michael's work.

Even though he eventually completed his degree, Michael remained something of a rebel because he didn't attend the degree ceremony or the year group photographic session. Instead he sent a full size photo of his head on a stick for a friend to hold up!

A father of five with two step children, Michael works in many mediums including acrylic, oil, pen and ink, pencil, pastel, watercolour and gouache. He also works in many genres, from copying old masters to landscape and abstract pieces.

Michael, who works from a studio at his home, said: "My paintings are not all the same, I don't like to stay in a comfort zone.

"There is no progress or learning without pushing the boundaries of one's abilities so I change what I do maybe three or four times a year."

A poet and author too, much of Michael's work is driven by the issues of poverty in the world, trafficking, exploitation, abuse, oppression and how many people living in uncaring comfort occasionally giving to charity to ease their conscience.

But the theme of Michael's work is also the beauty in the world and the contrast between all that is wrong with it.

He added: "The contrast between the two does not escape me.

"As artists we are self indulgent and smug, making art to point up the ills of our modern lives yet ironically profiting from the very thing that creates those ills in the first place."

The Royal Academy exhibition runs until Sunday, August 19th.