Axisweb Ones to Watch: The breakthrough artists of 2014

Susie Stubbs

Owl Project, Paul Merrick, Rachel Clewlow, Cath Campbell, Iain Andrews & Lindsey Bull: these are the ones to keep an eye on.

Axisweb has much to celebrate. The online resource for British contemporary art is entering its 23rd year with a new website, an international readership and a spike in members since last autumn’s re-launch. Axisweb’s bread and butter is fine art or, more specifically, the artists, curators, writers and professionals making the stuff – so who better to give a run-down of the artists to watch in 2014?

Owl Project, Manchester

Simon Blackmore, Antony Hall and Steve Symons create lo-fi, high-tech objects. Owl Project works with wood and electronics to make sculptural, music-making machines, interfaces and objects that, as Axisweb says, reveal a “bold and imaginative experimentation with traditional crafts and modern technology”. White Cube’s Tim Marlow rated Owl Project as “a wonderful combination of inventiveness, precision, lateral thinking and single-minded quirkiness”.

Paul Merrick, Gateshead

Minimalist yet colourful, Paul Merrick’s work fuses traditional painting, sculpture and materials such as scrap metal, gloss paint, bits of furniture, tape and even strip lighting. “His practice is really experimental,” says Axisweb. “He uses a range of methods to explore material, form and colour. Lush!”

Rachel Clewlow, Newcastle

Working mainly in print, drawing and painting, Rachel Clewlow’s finished works serve as a form of documentation of her travels – of, specifically, the daily walks she makes “from A to B and back again”. She logs her movements in her diaries, which become both beautiful objects and also serve as source material for the “the exquisite abstract paintings” that Axisweb says she creates. “They offer an original take on the relationship between walking and the experience of landscape.”

Cath Campbell, Newcastle

“Taking the history of Modernism as a point of departure, Cath Campbell reappropriates architectural imagery from memory to create make-believe sculptural spaces,” say Axisweb of an artist who often works with architects and engineers to create large-scale interventions that subtly distort or reorder existing structures in slightly subversive, unsettling ways.

Iain Andrews, Manchester

Iain Andrews’ vibrant, sensuous oil and acrylic impasto paintings take inspiration from sources as contrasting as Old Master paintings and Tolkein, and from the harrowing stories he has encountered as an art psychotherapist, which he reworks and transforms, layer upon layer,” says Axisweb.

Lindsey Bull, Manchester

One of our artists of the month, Lindsey Bull creates small oil paintings that are, according to the artist, “an exploration around reality and illusion”. “The figures in Lindsey Bull’s paintings appear to be immersed in some private ritual or performance,” says Axisweb, “and are based on images found in vintage magazines and books on mythology and witchcraft. Beautifully painted, with minimal brushstrokes.”

Images (in order, above): Owl Project (Salinity Sampler Sequencer, 2009–2012, credit: Lucy Ridges); Paul Merrick (Untitled (12,3,4,5), 2012, credit: Dave Lawson); Rachael Clewlow (Seven Walks, Seven Gates in Seven Colours (Key), 2013, credit: Colin Davison); Cath Campbell (Lighthouse, 2012, courtesy the artist/Workplace Gallery); Iain Andrews (The Flibbertigibbet, 2012); Lindsey Bull (Wolf Head, 2010).

Culture Guides


The spring season in museums and galleries continues, with an abundance of new exhibitions all over the North.

Winnie the Pooh at Manchester Opera House


The sun has finally got his hat on! Enjoy our top picks of family-friendly events and activities, both indoors and outdoors.

Anita Sethi


Festival fever has live literature land gripped, and libraries get their very own celebration in Greater Manchester, so you have your pick of performances from a star-studded cast this month…


Some excellent bands descend on Manchester this month, with the old and new guard of post punk in particularly strong supply.

Theatre in Manchester


Check out our updated guide for lively theatre festivals, rip-roaring rooftop circus and dreamy outdoor shows.

Classical Music

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

All signs point toward June being a scorcher of a month, so let’s take a look at all things summery food and drink.


We look at the ingenious, atmospheric outdoor screenings popping up across the North this summer.

Tours and Activities

Explore some new literary events and independent shops and keep your minds and homes filled with the good stuff this June.