IF it hadn’t been for a mountain bike accident in 2009 Pete Marsh would not have become a full-time artist.

As it happens, he not only did but helped set up The Falcon Mill Art Studios and Gallery in Halliwell and encourage hundreds of fellow artists of all ages.

Pete, now 62, was born in Birmingham. His father was a fireman but he had been offered an art scholarship at the age of 12. “As the oldest of three boys, though, he had to turn it down and start bringing in the money, working at just 13,” said Pete.

The artistic gene, however, was plainly visible in his son as young Pete spent his childhood “drawing footballers and my teens drawing musicians.”

Unfortunately, a school careers’ teacher told him there was no future in art. So, when he left school at 16, he took a variety of jobs – 25, in fact.

These ranged from architect training to working in a foundry but when a girlfriend’s father saw his work and encouraged him to study art instead, Pete took notice.

At 23, he took a degree course in fine arts at the old Sheffield Polytechnic where he made strong friendships with four other students, all from Manchester. So, after working at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, he moved to Manchester and his friends.

Pete has a life-long interest in music, particularly rock music, and worked at Manchester music venue The International (where he met his future wife Mel) as part of the stage crew and then at the Manchester Apollo, helping put on gigs in various large stadia.

This encouraged him to start sketching at the music venues, later creating atmospheric paintings capturing these images. “I always loved doing that because you draw from life. You really see what is happening, what little habits people have, to reflect in the painting,” he explained.

He still paints this way but his career took a different turn when he and Mel married and she was expecting the first of their three children. A mortgage meant Pete had to get a steady job.

He had done some art teaching in adult community education in Oldham - “and found I really loved teaching” – so he took a job teaching art at Canon Slade School in Bolton, kickstarting a 22-year career there.

Always a keen mountain biker, when he came off his bike at Rivington, badly damaging his shoulder, his recuperation gave him time to re-think his career plans. “I decided I didn’t want to die without having tried painting professionally,” he said.

As luck would have it, he was told about a Halliwell mill undergoing renovation with available units. He went along to the Grade II listed former cotton mill on Handel Street, and loved it.

His arrival prompted the creation of 10 individual studios; Pete also attracted other artists there. Today, all the studios are taken, with a waiting list.

What Pete has created is not only a co-operative of artists but a mutual support system. Open days and art exhibitions are held here – the latest started last weekend.

Pete himself not only exhibits all over the North-west and beyond but has also become artist-in-residence at music festivals, bringing together his two major loves: music and art.

At the same time, he runs weekly art sessions at local centres and puts on workshops for schoolchildren, specialising in print-making.

He said: “I just love the look on children’s faces when the print comes off the roller and they see what they have made.”

But, then, picturing life is what Pete Marsh has always successfully achieved.