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Current Exhibitions

The Turnpike Gallery’s exhibitions programme shares with visitors a wonderful mix of visual art by national, regional and local artists. Our aim is to inspire conversations and reflections on a wide range of themes: engaging children, young people and adults in looking, thinking, making and learning.

Chance Encounter: Jeanette Orrell and Leonard Green

  • 20 April – 22 June 2024

The Turnpike Gallery is delighted to present a unique exhibition by two artists who have established international careers. Both originally from Leigh and attendees of Wigan College, Leonard Green now paints in Somerset and Jeanette Orrell works in drawing and textiles from her home in Wales.

Len’s colourful abstract paintings balance lyrical, gestural mark-making with structure and geometry. Often derived from the music of Northern Soul, they embody exuberant energy as well as harmonious rhythm.

Combining drawing with the ancient art of indigo dyeing, Jeanette uses art to process life's events. This body of work, developed in the period following the loss of her father, contemplates experiences of mourning, recovery and regrowth.

This is the first time the artists have shown together and is the first time they have met. This chance encounter sets up an intriguing conversation between their work as we welcome them back to Leigh.

Jeanette Orrell

Jeanette was born in Leigh and attended Lowton St Mary’s primary school. When she left secondary school at 16, she went to Wigan Technical College to complete a foundation course in art & design before moving on to London to study ceramics at Camberwell School of Art from 1982-85. After travelling between London, Japan and Greece, Jeanette moved back to Wigan from 1989-2002 where she worked from home whilst bringing up two daughters with her partner Steffan.2211_JeanetteOrrell_DTL_036

Jeanette has been living and working in Wales since then and in 2017 was a recipient of the Arts Council of Wales Creative Wales Award. This granted her funding to travel back to Japan to study indigo dyeing at a farm in the foothills of Mount Fuji. Her work weaves together a fine art practice with craft techniques and is informed by understandings of familial ties, nature, making and motherhood.

“My brother, who is five years older than me, was on foundation course in 1976 and had been taken to visit the Howard Hodgkin exhibition at The Turnpike Gallery. He told me that it was free to go and that you didn’t need any permission, you could just go in and look. So, I did. I can still remember the feeling of that exhibition now—it has left a deep and lasting impression.

I was sixteen when I began the foundation course at Wigan Tech. I felt for the first time a complete sense that I was doing what I was supposed to—drawing all day long.”

Leonard Green

Len was born in Organ Street, Leigh before moving to Wigan Road. He studied foundation art & design at Wigan Technical College and then Fine Art (Painting) at Manchester University followed by MA studies in Fine Art also at Manchester. He was a regular visitor to The Turnpike Gallery, and in particular remembers the exhibition by Stephen Buckley in 1977. Amongst the exhibitions he was involved in during this time in the late 70s and early 80s was a solo show at The Turnpike Gallery in 1983.

During his early development as an artist, Len became a semi-professional DJ at a time when Northern Soul was the dominant form of music in local night clubs. He regularly performed at ‘Tuesday Mood’ in Culcheth and the ‘Way In’ club Leigh, located just off Bradshawgate. The DJing partly funded his art studies, and the music informed his paintings.

Youre the One - Len Green

With the need to find better paid work, Len left the northwest in 1984 and joined the Art Department at Millfield School in Somerset – a prestigious private school.  He describes this as a curious decision to make, leaving behind art lecturing and being a practising artist, for a teaching post. After 26 years, Len returned to full-time painting in 2010 and continues to live in Somerset.

“I went to Wigan Technical college for my Foundation course; the college was then very much a working building - I do remember the Art school and it was located on the top floor which had to be climbed every morning, noon and night!

I remember eating fish and chips or steak pudding and chips every day for that whole year! I sorely miss steak puddings - they don’t sell them in the South! I'm really looking forward to tasting one again when I’m back up north.

My Art tutors were Pete Dougdale and Ian Watts who challenged my very conservative views on art and especially my very critical opinions regarding abstract art. They really ‘opened’ my eyes.”

Events programme

Artist's talk: Art & Soul with Leonard Green, Tuesday 14th May, 6-7pm (online). Watch a recording of the talk on YouTube.

Artist's talk: Drawing with Indigo with Jeanette Orrell, Thursday 30th May, 6-7.30pm

For more information on our events and to register for your free place, visit our Eventbrite page (external link).