Hurst Green artist Ellen dies aged 24: tributes

Ellen Riley
Ellen Riley

A TALENTED young Ribble Valley artist has died after a battle against cancer.

Ellen Jane Riley-Charleuf died, aged 24, in the early hours of Saturday, July 7th.

Ellen Riley

Ellen Riley

A former pupil of Stonyhurst College and Blackburn College, Ellen grew up in Hurst Green and left the Ribble Valley three years ago to study art and literature in France, where she met her future husband, Cedric Charleuf, who is also an artist.

She looked set for success on the Parisian art scene, but three days before her 22nd birthday and eight days before her first solo exhibition at the fashionable Swiss Village in Paris, she was rushed into hospital for a seven-hour operation to remove a brain tumour.

Ellen, who exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery aged just 16 and a year later was the North-West winner of ITV’s Brush with Fame, returned to Ribble Valley with Cedric and painted a series of portraits of community champions, called “Heroes”. Among them were Clitheroe philanthropists John and Rosemary Lancaster, and disability activist Simon O’Rourke. The finished paintings were exhibited at Clitheroe Castle, to wide acclaim.

She married Cedric at St Peter’s Chapel, Stonyhurst, in June 2010 and was currently artist-in-residence at Stonyhurst College.

Her most recent work was a significant commission from The Society of Jesus in London for a series of 12 portraits of Jesuit martyrs.

Clitheroe Castle Museum manager Rachel Jackson said: “Ellen was an incredibly talented artist and a delight to work with. Her Heroes exhibition was very well received and we will remember her with fondness.”

Clitheroe councillor and disability activist Simon O’Rourke, who sat for the Heroes exhibition, said: “Despite being ill, Ellen chose to pick up her paintbrush and follow her dream. She was an outstanding young woman, who shared her talent with the community.

“The support she received from her partner, Cedric, and family was an inspiration and my thoughts are with them.”

Clitheroe philanthropists John and Rosemary Lancaster, who also sat for the Heroes exhibition, said: “Ellen was a remarkable and talented young woman, she was an inspiration to us and we will treasure her artwork.”

Andrew Johnson, headmaster at Stonyhurst College, said: “Ellen was a wonderfully talented artist. She spent the past year as artist-in-residence at Stonyhurst and inspired many of our pupils with her work.”

Ellen’s parents, Peter and Carmel Riley, said: “Although Ellen’s life was short, she found happiness and shared it with everyone she came in contact with. We will all miss her.”

Ellen died peacefully in husband Cedric’s arms in the early hours of Saturday. She is survived by her husband, parents, brothers Thomas and Xavier and sisters Kitty, Mary and Maisie-Jo.

Her funeral service will take place at St Peter’s Chapel, Stonyhurst, next Wednesday, July 18th, at 10-30 a.m., followed by a private burial. Donations are requested in lieu of flowers for “The Christie” hospital, Manchester.