A BOLTON artist achieved his dream of 16 years when he launched his new exhibition of landscape paintings last night at Bolton Museum and Art Gallery.

James Naughton, who followed in the footsteps of Bolton-born 19th century artist Thomas Moran by embarking on a journey across the American West, was at Bolton Museum to unveil his exhibition, entitled 'Naughton and Moran: Paintings of the American West'.

Mr Naughton first became aware of Moran in 1998 and cites him as a major influence on his work.

With photographer and friend Andrew Hodgson, Mr Naughton visited the sites of Moran’s most iconic works in Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton range in the Grand Teton National Park.

The pair ended their two-week trip — which they undertook last summer in a cramped all-American “RV” motorhome — at Green River, South Wyoming, the location of that first Moran painting Mr Naughton had seen as a young artist.

The exhibition took Mr Naughton, aged 42, from Heaton, nine months to complete and contains more than fifty paintings, all of which he completed from memory after travelling to the states of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

He said: “It’s a privilege to bring my work and my experiences to Bolton, because this is my home town.

“It was an incredible experience going to America. What struck me was the scale of the landscape out there — there are so many wide open spaces. It’s a massive expanse of space like you’ve never seen before.

“Thomas Moran is very inspirational to me. I was fascinated by his work from the moment I saw it.”

More than 100 people attended the launch on Thursday. Opening the exhibition, the Mayor of Bolton Cllr Colin Shaw said he hoped Mr Naughton's work would inspire young Bolton artists in the same way Thomas Moran's work had inspired Mr Naughton.

The exhibition is open to the public from tomorrow, Saturday, March 1, and will run until November 16.