Art, Culture

Impressionist painter Tom Quigley brings the city’s streets to life

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Tom Quigley is a prevalent name throughout the art community in Manchester. An impressionist painter, Quigley takes his admirers on a journey through the forgotten back streets of the Northern Quarter, bringing to life scenes that would normally be considered mundane.

Born in Reading, Quigley and his family moved to Manchester when he was very young. He studied art at Leeds Metropolitan University before deciding that he was passionate about passing his knowledge on to others. This led him down a teaching route in Manchester, although, he admits, he did first dabble with the idea of becoming a graphic designer. However, he says he is “more of a hands-on person rather than a creative on a computer”.

Quigley identifies as an impressionist painter. He regularly travels throughout the Northern Quarter taking photos of dull, or seemingly boring scenes, which he then translates on to his canvas in new ways. When choosing what to photograph he explains, “I take many photos of mundane things, I tend to be drawn to images which have elements of light, which translate into colour.” Quigley challenges the ‘mundane’ by taking figures of your every day and translating them into something admirable. 

Quigley’s artwork can be described as impressionism. Which, according to the Tate, was developed in France in the 19th century. It described a new concept of painting in the open air as opposed to in a studio. This change of scenery gives the artist the ability to develop a greater awareness of the natural scene, and the light and the colours associated with it. Quigley says he is “drawn to places which have atmospheric qualities”. This is reflected in his style of impressionism. The atmosphere that his photos capture cannot be created in a studio, he needs to experience the feel of his surroundings.

Image: Tom Quigley

If you live in Manchester, chances are that you are familiar with the Northern Quarter and its eccentric bars and people. The Northern Quarter is home to some of the city’s favourite independent bars and restaurants, a quirky alternative to your regular day/night out. “I love the Northern Quarter and its architecture,” says Quigley. “These buildings and streets give a glimpse into the city’s past.” Despite how familiar you are, or how familiar you think you are, you’ve never seen the Northern Quarter through Tom Quigley’s eyes. Quigley chooses to go behind the scenes (or streets), to capture parts of the Northern Quarter that have seemingly been forgotten. 

Everything you look, touch, feel and listen to has to be designed and created. Without the arts, the world would be a very boring place.”

– Tom Quigley

The way Quigley operates on a day-to-day basis is admirable; looking for the positives in the negatives, the beauty in things that aren’t conventionally beautiful. We see this in his artwork, in the back streets, the bins, and the traffic lights he depicts in his work.

Quigley is no stranger to hard work. He is dedicated and tries to maintain a positive mindset. He says, “As an artist you have to be adaptable and react to a variety of different situations.” He tries to instil this mindset in his students as well. Quigley’s positivity is evident when asked about his future in the arts industry in light of current affairs. “Opportunities will arise out of this; you just have to look where the opportunities are,” he says.

In addition to selling his work, Quigley continues to work full time as an art teacher, passing on both his knowledge and passion to younger generations. He believes art to be “the most important subject of all”. According to Quigley, art gives students the ability to develop their own ideas and to become independent learners with their own right of expression.

Quigley’s art can teach us that there are positives in the unlikeliest of places, even if it is down a back alley in the Northern Quarter.

About the author / 

Daniel Thompson

1 Comment

  1. Leslie Martin 14th February 2024 at 4:21 pm -  Reply

    Very Nice Art work. I had a Business partner Tom Quigley” “Black Boy Lane” North London “Haringey” In the 70’s Thomas Electronics. It inspired me and I moved to Los Angeles working at Universal Studios and all other studios as a technician.

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