An uninspiring and drab Radcliffe canal wall is being transformed into a work of art.

Community-spirited Prestwich artist, Carol Anne Lee, is devoting her spare time to creating a colourful mural at a town centre stretch of the canal.

“Art gives me so much pleasure and I like to use it for good,” she said.

In time, she will be painting more murals along the canal, and when completed there will be an official unveiling ceremony.

Explaining the mural, Carol Anne said: “It’s a celebration of the history and beauty of the canal. It shows what Radcliffe used to be like, which is why I’ve included a shire horse pulling a barge, and images associated with coal mining.

“I also want to connect Radcliffe’s past with its present, so I’ll be featuring litter-pickers and the people who plant flowers to make the canal look nicer.”

Assisting Carol Anne with her artistic projects is Angie Power, a friend who lives in Whitefield. Whenever the weather is good, the two head to the canal bank to work on the mural.

Angie Power and Carol AnneAngie Power and Carol Anne (Image: Neil Brandwood)

“Without Angie, I couldn’t do it,” said Carol Anne.

“We’re a real team and she’s a diamond.

“One of the things I enjoy about working on the mural is that I’m outside, which is a nice change from working alone in my studio.

“There’s been an amazing response from the public, with people coming up to talk to me about the painting, and motorists calling out words of encouragement and appreciation. It’s lovely.

“I’ve even had an audience of swans watching me as I work.”

A former make-up artist and mother of four grown-up children, Carol Anne works in a range of mediums, from oils to pastels. Due to the outdoor location of her latest project, which will be exposed to all weathers, she is using colourful acrylic paint for the mural.

Her artistic achievements are all the more remarkable in light of difficulties in her early life.

Carol Anne and Angie at workCarol Anne and Angie at work (Image: Neil Brandwood)

Carol-Anne  left school aged just 14.

She said: “Despite my passion for art, I was prevented from going to art college because I had to look after my sibling.

“For a long time, I lay down my art brushes, believing that world was no longer open to me. I had a lot of anger and I thought I was no good.

"I’d have ideas in my head but every time I tried to paint, my hand wouldn’t move to the canvas, it was like a psychological block.”

However, 10 years ago she realised that the anger she felt was not helpful.

She decided to treat her thwarted childhood ambition and the disappointments of her earlier life as learning experiences and plucked up the courage to pick up a paintbrush.

She said: “I called my first painting My heart the child. This painting was a form of self-counselling, as I could place everything I ever felt as a child into one canvas, disturbing but healing.”

Inspired, and at last able to fully release her creativity, Carol Anne proceeded to build an art studio in the back garden of her Prestwich home.

Entirely self-taught, her works soon began receiving serious attention, and she had to build another building in which to showcase her ever-growing portfolio.

“My artistic career has gone from strength-to-strength,” she said.

“I had a successful exhibition at the Manchester Printworks, and for the Harry Potter Festival.”

She is also involved in creating art for the Northern Soul festival, which led to television appearances.

She added: “After all the obstacles I had overcome, it was so wonderful to have this recognition.”

Along with her successful exhibitions in the UK, her work – which often includes poetry, quotes and quirky details such as comic characters – has attracted international interest. Since 2021 she has exhibited in Rome’s Rossocinabro Art Gallery.

Carol Anne presents American soul legend, Tommy Hunt, with her painting of his journey through lifeCarol Anne presents American soul legend, Tommy Hunt, with her painting of his journey through life (Image: Supplied)

Carol Anne’s talent matches her altruism. She is taking no money for the canal mural and over the last decade has used her paintings to help raise thousands for such charities as The Christie and Children with Cancer.

But it’s the people of Radcliffe who will benefit from her latest work.

She said: “There used to be, and there still can be, a lot of beauty down the canal. I’m hoping that, when it’s completed, the mural will help lift the spirits of the community and give people a sense of pride and a deep affection for the area and the local heritage.”

For further details and to commission artwork, visit