Artist returns to village for show

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Artist Tessa Houghton is putting on an exhibition at Dark Lane, Whittle-le-Woods
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Artist Tessa Houghton is putting on an exhibition at Dark Lane, Whittle-le-Woods
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A Chorley artist now living in Spain has returned to the town to showcase her work in a landmark building.

Tessa Houghton, 36, grew up around the corner from former porters lodge ‘The Wap’ on Dark Lane, Whittle-le-Woods.

And when she was asked to help raise the profile of the now renovated building, the former St Michael’s pupil didn’t have to think twice.

Tessa first moved away from Chorley to study Fine Art at Liverpool John Moores University. After completing her degree she returned home, before deciding to move to Barcelona in 2000.

Tessa said: “I was originally just moving to Barcelona for a year, to have an adventure. I ended up living there for 12.”

There, Tessa developed her painting career, swapping inspiration from the moorlands of northern England, to the Catalonian coast, and the Pyrenees mountains.

She returned to her home town at Christmas and it was while she was looking for a place to show her art that she stumbled across the 19th century lodge, which has recently been restored and is now office space.

Tessa said: “I came back to Chorley to visit family and was looking for somewhere to work from for a little while. I kept in touch with the people behind the building and have now have decided I will stay put for a while.”

Tessa will be hosting her first exhibition in the area at the former lodge on Thursday, October 11 at 7.30pm.

It will be held in collaboration with Julian Peck, of Peck Properties, who renovated the building and will feature her most recent body of landscape paintings.

She said “Me and my friends used to go and play in the building when it was ruins so it is quite a personal place for me.”

According to archivists, ‘drinks of all kinds’ were available at the former porters lodge for those passing by in the days when the canal was busy with commercial traffic from nearby mills.

The barges stopped for a drink while waiting for boats to clear in the neighbouring Jackson Locks, which is where the colloquial phrase ‘just wap up for a drink’ was invented. From this the porters Lodge got its nickname The Wap, which has stuck to this day.

Tessa, who has recently been selected to exhibit at the Affordable Art Fair in Singapore, admits that swapping the hustle and bustle of Barcelona for Whittle-le-Woods is a bit of a shock at the moment, but says it’s nice to be home.

She said: “Being in Chorley is a complete culture shock at the moment. I was living in the middle of the city centre with lots going on all the time, so it feels a lot quieter now.”

Entrance to the exhibition is by invitation only. To register your interest, email