Saltaire-based artist Clare Caulfield's quirky paintings and drawings bring some of Yorkshire's most iconic town and cityscapes to new life. But she doesn't just restrict herself to Yorkshire for inspiration, she tells HELEN MEAD

Whether it's the higgledy-piggledy rooftops of Whitby, the huddle of red roofed cottages that spill down to the sea in Staithes, Harrogate’s unusual pump room, the harbourside at Robin Hood’s Bay or the elegant County Arcade in Leeds, artist Clare Caulfield has captured them all.

Her distinctive style pays attention to detail and use of colour in a quirky, captivating way - as the examples of her work on these pages show. And the Saltaire-based artist by no means confines herself to the towns and cities of Yorkshire for inspiration.

Cities and towns across the world come alive through her pens, pencils and brushes - whether the gondolas on Venice’s Grand Canal, Prague’s iconic red trams, the primary-coloured houses of Reykjavik, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York or Venice's Piazza San Marco.

Closer to her home in the World Heritage Site of Saltaire, the artist and printmaker has painted Salts Mill and the patchwork of allotments in its shadow.

Her love of art began at an early age. “I loved drawing as a child and that has never left me,” she says. “The early work of artist Stephen Wiltshire is a big inspiration. The architectural line drawings he produced during his childhood, of London and Paris, have a very loose and fluid quality. They’re very beautiful and expressive.”

After a foundation course in Art and Design at Bradford College, Clare went on to Staffordshire University, graduating with first class honours in design:surface pattern.

She has always been fascinated by architecture. “I love the detail and structure of buildings, the repetition and pattern to be found within their design,” she says. “I closely study their detail and character but when I begin to draw, they almost seem to take on an identity of their own as I interpret them in my own style.”

During Clare’s final year at university, she won a trip to Venice as a result of a drawing project and decided to use it as the focus for her year-end show.

“The Venetian buildings were a huge inspiration. I developed my drawing style during that time.

“Venice is a very special city for me as it's where my passion for drawing architecture began. It's such a beautiful city, there is nowhere quite like it."

Both New York and Paris come a close second, however, she says.

“I love the challenge of trying to capture the life and vibrancy of big cities. The feeling of bewilderment and the unknown when you arrive in a new place, then gradually getting into the flow and seeing the patterns and energy of life. These are the things that excite me and which I hope to get across in my work.”

Some types of architecture are more difficult to capture than others.

“It’s about my reaction to a place. If I love a location and respond emotionally to it, then my work flows naturally,” she says.

Clare works in a variety of media including watercolour, acrylic and collage.

“Drawing and linework feature heavily in my work. I use graphite pencils, dip pen and ink, coloured pencils, and pastel, and I wouldn’t be without my brown sketching pens. They suit my drawing style.”

She also hand-paints sheets of paper using watercolour washes and uses old sheet music or old books.

“I cut these into various shapes and sizes in order to depict the scene; a patchwork of rooftops, chimney pots or coloured lettering behind a Manhattan diner sign. It takes hours to carefully arrange the cut-out fragments and tiny pieces of paper, and only when it is finally pulled through the etching press is the colour bonded to the paper and the finished print revealed.”

Saltaire is, she says, the perfect place for her studio. “It’s home to many creative folk, art galleries and vintage shops. The village is known for its Victorian architecture which I have drawn many times – my surroundings are a big inspiration for my work so this makes me feel at home."

Clare met her partner Nick Tankard, a book illustrator and artist, at Salts Mill, where he works part time in the 1853 Gallery. They have exhibited together on a number of occasions. “Our techniques are very different but we both share a passion for travel and art,” says Clare.

Her work has been used to illustrate books on different cities: ‘Everyone Loves Paris’ was a collection of Paris-themed illustrations by artists from all over the world. Its success led to her being asked to work on the follow up, ‘Everyone Loves New York’, which features Clare’s Statue of Liberty painting on the cover.

The US-based publisher TeNeues also produced notecards depicting five of her most popular New York City images including The Flatiron Building, Brooklyn Bridge and Skaters in Central Park. “Their stationery is distributed all over the world so this has been a great opportunity to get my work seen by a wide audience,” she says.

She still has a long list of places she'd love to draw, however. "It’s great to see people's reactions as they view my paintings, my interpretations of the cities I draw seem to capture a moment which they themselves can relate to.”

Clare exhibits at Heart Gallery in Hebden Bridge, but in July her work can be seen at Berties of Bay in Robin Hoods Bay, where she is showing her city prints alongside images of Yorkshire’s coastal towns: Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay and Staithes.

She will also be exhibiting at The Old School in Muker in the Yorkshire Dales. This mixed show, from March 30 to May 13, will focus on the East Yorkshire coast.

For more information visit and