BOLTON artist Alice Urmston was proving to be the picture of success back in 1993 when she was preparing to stage her first solo exhibition - at the age of 72.

Her work was due to be exhibited at the Whitaker Museum and Art Gallery in Rawtenstall.

Alice, a former factory worker, took up painting as a mature student,

“I’d been good at art when I was at school,” she said, “but always thought that art as a profession was only for the gentry.”

Alice left school at 14 and went to work at Holt’s Hosiery where she became an inspector on the shop floor until she was 28.

When Bolton Technical College re-opened after the war, she was one of the first students to take her Matriculation exams there.

Aged 28, Alice decided that she wanted to leave the factory behind, wanting instead to teach and was accepted at St Katharine’s College in Liverpool where she was properly introduced to art

Her teaching career saw her work in a number of Bolton schools including Bolton County Secondary School - and more than three years teaching in Africa before she took early retirement at the age of 60.

Throughout her teaching career, art had proved to be a rewarding hobby and more recently she had been honing her skills working with Bury-based professor of art Jim Mackenzie.

“My work has always tended towards the abstract,” said Alice from Harwood. “And I was really delighted to finally stage my own exhibition.

“I do hope that people will enjoy my work. They’re unusual pictures but there are many people who like this sort of art.”