The Queen's Birthday Honours List celebrates the achievements of many an unsung community champion and this summer it was announced that watercolour artist and RSA Fellow Ashley Jackson will receive a British Empire Medal for his contribution to the Arts.
As a professional artist of over fifty years standing, Ashley Jackson FRSA has been a passionate ambassador for the Yorkshire landscape that he captures in his atmospheric paintings. Not one to take out his sketch book on a sunny day, he is most renowned for the drama his large scale watercolours possess.
Ashley is extremely proud and humbled by this extraordinary public recognition;
"It gives me great pleasure to have been awarded a British Empire Medal on behalf of the Arts and Community. I have always said I wanted to be the 'People's Artist' making art accessible to everyone.
I hope that others will see it as a reflection of my passion for Yorkshire, its landscapes and people and as such the BEM truly belongs not just to me, but to Yorkshire."
He has always strived to have art placed in everyday places, with Grand Central Rail named train, 'Ashley Jackson - The Yorkshire Artist' depicting his work throughout the five carriages, his painting on a bank debit card and Wakefield Kirkgate station hosting an exhibition of sound and vision within the station underpass.
A recent project in partnership with the National Trust and sponsored by Walker Morris LLP, Grand Central Rail and the University of Huddersfield has ensured that five free standing metal frames have been placed across Yorkshire from Roseberry Topping to Marsden Moor to 'frame the landscape'. Ashley asks only that we stop a while and appreciate the landscapes that surround us, the frame enhances the vista and provides an educational programme for Key Stage 1 and 2 on its website. Find out more: Framing Yorkshire's Landscape.
It is the engagement of the next generation of artist that has been a further focus of Ashley's, voluntarily providing art classes within schools and young offender units to ensure that his art skills are passed on and his life story is used as a motivational means to ensure art is recognised in an academic environment, for those that are creative but not academic he aims to give a voice.
This July marks Ashley Jackson's fiftieth year as an RSA Fellow. On behalf of the RSA, Rachel Barker, Area Manager for the north of England, extends her gratitude for his continued support.