Manny Blair was born in 1971 in the north west coastal resort of Blackpool, UK. He grew up in a house full of books which instilled an early appreciation of creative thinking.
After school he attended Blackpool & the Fylde College studying art & design. He acknowledges this, with hind-sight, as the most important part of his art education. It was his painting instructor, Norman Travis, who recommended broadening his painting experiences under the tutelage of Stass Paraskos at Cyprus College of Art & so he enrolled at Cyprus College of Art, where he exhibited in a private gallery for the first time, receiving a favourable critique of his work in a national newspaper. It was at Cyprus that Manny was first made aware of the work of Euan Uglow, who was the first 'Artist in Residence' at the college a few years earlier.
On his return to the UK, he embarked on his Fine Art degree at the University of Sunderland where he studied alongside Turner Prize nominated artist, Richard Billingham. Not having banished his wonderlust, Manny took advantage of an international student exchange program & spent his second year at East Carolina University, NC.
Manny returned to his studies at Manchester Metropolitan University in the Landscape Architecture program. Immediately after obtaining his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree, he decided to combine his art & design degrees with a Masters degree in Public Art. It was here he studied under Jason Minsky who taught him a level of professionalism & rigour in artistic practice that he had not previously experienced. Manny owes Jason a huge debt of gratitude.
New opportunities presented themselves in 2008 when he received a job offer in Calgary, Canada. Six months apart from his wife & two young sons enabled tentative roots to be put down in Alberta, where his family now live in De Winton, AB.
Having proudly become a Canadian citizen in 2014, Manny has spent his time establishing himself in the Calgary art scene. These years have been spent building a portfolio of new work, & co-founding Art Calgary (www.artcalgary.ca), Calgary's first contemporary visual art fair.
Manny's creative influences are many & somewhat disjointed. They include art world behemoths such as Francisco Goya, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Bacon, Clyfford Still, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Grayson Perry & Julie Mehretu; Architects, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Rudolf Schindler, Erno Goldfinger and Richard Neutra; designers Dieter Rams & Thomas Heatherwick. Manny is also a student of Stoic Philosophy.