Paul Stafford was born in 1957 in a corner shop, on a cobbled street called North Street, Oldham, Lancashire. Both his mum and grandma worked in the mills of that town. His earliest memory is coming home from the ‘injun beds’ (engine beds of the closed down factories near his home) with a dead rat on his head, singing “Davy Crocket Davy Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier”. He was seven. You had to get your entertainment where you could as a kid on the street, no PlayStation for Paul.
His grandma went on to manage touring acts in the music hall. His mum was a contortionist on the stage. It’s where she met her future husband Eric, a Stage Door Johnny on leave from the Navy. He would hang around at the artist’s entrance to see a 16 year old who could fling her legs round her neck and get in a tiny box.
His beloved grandma, Mona, went on to manage a pub in Oldham with its own tap room, or snug, his family sent packing by the police from Oldham when his dad wouldn’t tell the police where he had hidden his loot (in the local canal).
Long a fan of Coronation Street, Paul and his daughter visited the old set in 2015 to be told that it was being knocked down in December of that year. From that date Paul has been furiously working on paintings of The Street. Scouring the web for memorabilia and press photos of times gone by, he has painted Hilda in front of her ‘Muriel’ (sic), Stan as “Stan The Terrible”, Albert wearing his trademark hat and our Tracy, wearing next to nothing in a charity shoot.
He has completed around 30 paintings so far and, on the 7th of December 2015 he will pack his work into a Luton van and head up North. Paul will use the van as his exhibition space. He will park it on Quay Street on a meter outside the old Coronation Street set. He will open to the public for one week only from the 8th of December to the 14th of December.
He will hold a Private View in the van from 5pm until 8pm on the 9th of December. At 7pm precisely, he will hold a minute’s silence in the van in memory of all those acting icons who graced the cobbles and are with us no more. At 7pm, 2015 it will be exactly 55 years since the first ever Corrie episode was aired on Granada TV in 1960. Present cast and crew will be invited.
Paul’s “drive up exhibition” will be a celebration of long lost storylines and his own past as a boy living on those same streets – scarlet fever, rickets, rats and nits – how romantic.
Paul trained at the Slade School and was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 2012 in recognition of his contribution to British Sculpture. In 2013 he was made an Honorary Fellow of Kingston University.
Paul’s exhibition will open from the 8th of December to the 14th of December 2015, 8am until 8pm, in a van somewhere on Quay Street, Manchester M3 4AL.
Copyright©2015 Paul Stafford