Artist Ashley’s back with his brushes

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AN artist’s return to the exhibition stage after battling life-threatening illness has been hailed a success.

Retired art lecturer Ashley Eldridge, of Bothal, thought his exhibiting days were over when he was diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage 18 months ago.

Fortunately, he made a full recovery from his illness and was able to continue his painting passion, fulfilling a long-held ambition to focus on animals, rather than his usual portraiture commissions.

Members of the public were given a chance to see his latest pieces last week when they went on display in the Butter Market of Morpeth Town Hall.

And more than 160 people attended the launch event, with dozens more passing through the exhibition throughout the week.

Mr Eldridge is delighted at the level of interest.

“I’ve had some good feedback from the exhibition and it’s nice that people have been talking about my paintings again,” he said.

“I haven’t put on an exhibition since 2006 and after my illness I didn’t think I would be on my feet again, let alone painting and exhibiting.

“I wasn’t sure that I would ever be able to do it again.

“I’m very pleased with how it all went. It has definitely encouraged me to do more.”

He now plans to return to portrait work, with hopes of painting Morpeth Mayor Phil Taylor.

“I grew up in Kent next to a nature reserve so I’ve always had an interest in natural history, but I’m going to go back to figure work now I have animals out of my system. I’ve offered to paint the Mayor, if the council agrees of course,” he said.