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Mellor painter Richard Leng undertakes ambitious project for local causes

Mellor painter Richard Leng

Back in last year’s winter edition of the Review we wrote about an unusual way for a person to raise much needed funds for Mellor Village Centre, St. Thomas’ Church and its chosen charities (Wellspring, St. Anne’s Hospice, Medicins sans Frontieres and the Bible Society). 

Retired architect, Richard Leng, had embarked upon an ambitious project to paint the portraits of a number of local people. Originally, he set out to paint 25 portraits but this has now grown to 30 (although Richard says there are many more he could still do but for his wife’s sanity he has drawn a line at 30.) In so doing he is hoping that the sitters will make a healthy contribution for the aforementioned.

Richard Leng

Richard has lived in Mellor for almost 40 years and his idea came from the buildings and landscapes of the area and also of Moor end and Marple Bridge. But as he pointed out to me “these have been painted many times before so I thought why not paint the people who are as much of the village as anything else.”

To supplement the portraits Richard also decided to do a collection of ink drawings of the area. Well-known local historian Ann Hearle has kindly agreed to include historical notes to support these.

All of the portraits and the line drawings are being brought together in a book called “Painting the Village”.

Whilst most of the sitters were happy to be painted, a few were reluctantly encouraged to take part including Dermot Sheedy from Libby’s in Marple Bridge who succumbed to local pressure.

One of the St. Thomas’ bell ringers, Paddy Whitham, remarked to Richard in passing “Oh hello Richard, off to carry out another character assassination!”  as he hadn’t been overjoyed at the first portrait Richard had done of him. Unfortunately for Paddy, one of his compradres from the bell tower had it printed on to mugs and freely dispatched around the parish!

Although Richard wouldn’t commit to a favourite portrait, he made special mention of Mellor resident Nancy Cloughley “as the best dressed parishioner in the congregation and a joy to paint.”

Richard Leng

An exhibition of the portraits and drawings will be held over the weekend of 20th-22nd October. Friday 7-10pm, Saturday 10-5 pm and Sunday 1-5pm at 39 Clement Road, Mellor, SK6 5AG and refreshments will be available. 

“Painting the Village” book will also be available to buy.

Finally, Richard asked for a special mention for his wife, Margaret, for all her hard work in bringing the book to its fruition.