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Taking Shape: Introducing Craig Atherton

Last year we received funding to develop Taking Shape, a new artist development programme. This was a paid opportunity for 6 established creative practitioners living and working locally to receive valuable training and support to develop their work with communities. Over the last few months, they have received training in project planning, facilitation, evaluation, environmental responsibility, first aid and safeguarding all whilst being supported to develop their own community projects.

As Taking Shape progresses, we thought it was about time we introduced you to the practitioners we have had the pleasure of working with over the last few months.


Craig Atherton


Describe your artistic practice:

"If you want to understand the universe, think in terms of energy, vibration and frequency". - Nicola Tesla.

I see energy as this invisible force that's always at play, like a frequency, and when you tune into the right frequency, you attract the things you want. It's like the saying goes, “Like attracts like." So, I see my work as a sort of experiment to see if I can change the vibes in a space. Understanding how energy flows is fascinating to me. It's like a fun game of trial and error. Can I lift someone's mood with my art? Can I change the feel of a room just by hanging one of my pieces? Can a street piece of mine alter someone’s day for the better? These are the questions that keep me going in my creative journey. I've been into screen printing for about 25 years now, and it just feels right to me. I started collaging when I lived in London which is where I was introduced to the whole street art scene and the art of wheatpasting. My art is about celebrating life and the connections we share with everything around us. I play around with bringing unseen things, like sound and movement, to life visually. I use vibrant colours and intricate patterns to capture the lively energy of the natural world. Each piece is meant to spark a sense of wonder and appreciation, urging people to connect with their surroundings and embrace the beauty of diversity, both in nature and among ourselves. Whether I'm working on big installations or small, handmade pieces, my motivation always comes from a deep love for nature and a curiosity about how everything is connected. Through my art, I aim to inspire others to see the world with fresh eyes and realise the importance of our connections with each other and the planet we call home.

Why did you apply for the Taking Shape Artist Development Programme?

I recently did a few workshops at the Turnpike Gallery and realised how I can make positive change through these workshops which is an extension of my art practice. I had hoped to gain practical knowledge of how to plan and execute a well-engaged art workshop, but I ended up getting more as I have been inspired to feel proud of my history, who I am and pull together my various skill sets to create a unique community company.

What do you think of the programme so far?

I don't want it to end. Everyone at Everyday and Down To Earth has been supportive beyond anything I could have imagined. I’m usually embarrassed about being neuro-diverse, and I have spent all my life covering it up but being on this programme has taught me that it's okay to be different and that it's okay to ask for things that can help. Also big up to Debbie Chan! huge respect for her and how she curated the day we spent with her. I learned so much from her. We need more Debbie Chans in this world!!! I feel lucky to have been chosen for this programme as i have grown so much as a person, emotionally, spiritually and professionally. Also i feel like i have made some friends for life. Blown away by the support and encouragement to be honest. This is a programme that needs to happen every year!

Who are you inspired by?

Keith Haring, For me he nailed the perfect mix – a street art maestro, a community crusader, a fine artist, and a commercial powerhouse. His murals on city walls weren't just paint; they were conversations with the streets, shouting messages of love, activism, and unity. Dude was like a graffiti poet. And the way he seamlessly switched between painting gritty city walls and doing high-end gallery shows! It's like he had this magical balance. From subways to SoHo, Haring's art wasn't confined – it was everywhere. Plus, the way he championed LGBTQ+ rights is next level. Haring's art wasn't just about pretty pictures; it was a voice for equality. And the fact that he was openly gay in a time when it wasn't all rainbows and acceptance. That's the kind of artistic juggling act that fuels my own creative hustle.

You can follow Craig on Instagram here.

Check back next week to meet the next artist involved in our Taking Shape Artist Development Programme!


This programme is supported with funding from Arts Council England, Down to Earth and Wigan Council.


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