Beautiful paintings of 80s and 90s Kirkby will take you right back

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A Merseyside man has been creating nostalgic illustrations inspired by his hometown after his family life was changed forever.

In 2014, husband Steve, who lives in Orrell Park, received the devastating news his wife Canan had been diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour.

Steve said the couple had to "completely change their lives" and the following year Canan underwent her first operation to manage the tumour.

After Canan started receiving treatment and support from the Walton Centre, a neurology hospital in Fazakerley, Steve said the couple wanted to start spending more time doing what they wanted and loved to do, as "life is too short".

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Steve had always enjoyed art from a young age after his mum first taught him to sketch but never pursued it as a career in his working life.

But it was always a shared dream between Canan and Steve that he would one day pursue it and Steve said Canan has been the catalyst for him to take it seriously.

Steve, 52, said: "It started really in 2015. I'm actually quite new to it really.

"Before that I had a successful career working in the corporate world and Canan worked as a beautician based in south Liverpool.

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"My wife was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014 and in 2015 she had her first operation. We had to re-evaluate our lives.

Millys Mudlark: The first Kirkby painting Steve Randall did based on his friend's story of falling off the swing in Mill Farm

"The art gave me a purpose at a time that was very difficult. We had to completely change our lives.

"My mum was an amateur cartoonist and she taught me when I was young. It was actually a hobby here and there.

"But my wife had seen me drawing my sketches over the years and we just decided to do it."

Canan's tumour is managed by surgery and monitoring and Steve said she's beating the prognosis and feels positive and healthy.

He said her positivity is his inspiration and their new lifestyle means he's able to put more time into painting, something that makes both of them extremely happy.

Steve said: "When Canan was going through rehabilitation, the family was really supportive of my new venture."

Over the last few years, Steve has painted and sold many different pieces, with the money being donated to many charitable causes.

Steve Randall with his print exhibition in CassArt Liverpool, March 2019.

So far, over £6,000 has been raised for the Walton Centre and over £12,000 in total, with donations being made to the Owen McVeigh Foundation, Alfie's Squad and the Brain Tumour charity.

Steve is currently working on a body of work entitled "Kirkby chronicles" which is inspired by his childhood in the town during the 1970s and 80s.

Steve said: "‘The Kirkby pieces is because I had a really good upbringing in Kirkby. I left when I was 16 and moved to Aintree, then I went to university and lived down south for a while.

"It was a comfortable life and there’s many memories of my family, my parents, my late brother. Because we've had success with the charity commissions, it now enables me to focus on the Kirkby chronicles.

"While it's connecting me back to my happy childhood and that of my family and friends, it's also celebrating the spirit we saw in the community at the time which was instilled in us by our parent and grandparents. That was to be successful and strive to be the best you could be."

Steve describes his artwork as "nostalgic illustrations" and has been inspired by everything from school plays, playing around the Windmill pub in Tower Hill, the shop on the Old Hall estate and more.

"Kirkby chippy dinner" by Steve Randall. A pastiche of 1980 to 1985 represented by the fashions and the shoes of each year.

Steve said: "I believe in the 80s there was a uninformed and misguided external perception of the Kirkby I grew up in.

"My Kirkby and that of my friends was one of strong community, strong work ethic and respect and those values further developed within the schools.

"Kirkby always produced successful people but I felt our generation went out with something to prove. It's that which I ultimately want my art to celebrate."

An oil painting entitled "where's the party" of the Tenterhook pub in Tower Hill, circa 1982, by Steve Randall.

Steve said the responses so far to his pieces have been fantastic.

He said: "Whilst I am concentrating on the Kirkby chronicles now, I don't want to refuse charity commissions, so if people want to discuss their charity ideas with me I'm happy to do that.

"Before this I was never one for social media, but 12 months ago I had started posting in the various Kirkby groups.

"Even though it may not be their memories, people can relate to the paintings."

The "statey" by Steve Randall, a pastiche of the 1980s set in the shop on the Old Hall estate.

Steve plans to create more pieces for the collection whilst in lockdown, featuring memories of well-known places such as Kirkby baths.

He usually works in a studio space in University Hospital Aintree, provided by charity PARTIA (Promoting Art in Aintree).

He will also be collaborating in the future with Kirkby Cof E, his former primary school, to bridge the gap between his nostalgic pieces and the current experiences of the next generation in the town.

Steve said: "My ambition is to have an exhibition in 2022 to be a part of the borough of culture of around 20 works, but that is no more than my idea at this stage.

Steve Randall's latest oil painting entitled "Glory boys & the Pterodactyl 1979."Top left is Steve as a young boy.

"We never thought it would be such an important part of our lives.

"It’s given us another purpose and we both feel very comfortable and fortunate for the situation we’re in. It sort of turned a negative situation into a positive."

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