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Graham Lewis

United Kingdom
In 2000 I had a mega-breakdown and spent five months in an acute mental health unit. The occupational therapist suggested I develop an interest to quell my darkest thoughts, so restarted my love for painting. In my teens I’d studied a few Saturday classes at Doncaster School of Art – even considered doing a BA there – then sold out ant went into journalism. After living in sheltered accommodation I was re-housed in 2004 in the wonderful artists colony of St Ives, a town I’d arrived in as a homeless Big Issue seller. Suddenly I had my own space, somewhere I could paint when I wanted to!

I’ve always written poetry, appearing at Edinburgh Fringe in 1998 and 1999 as Big Issue Graham. A local gallery owner runs poetry open-mike sessions in West Cornwall. Impudently I asked him to look at my work, next day two more pieces were hanging in St Ives’ Salt House Gallery. (Where I’m still represented.) Since my return to painting ‘abstract essays in colour, tone and texture… rewarding to be with’ (The Cornishman newspaper, 02.10.2008) have been included in group shows in Cardiff, Bristol and Bath. When Lop-Lop Gallery Café opened in Poole, Dorset, just round the corner from the world-famous pottery, I was one of its first exhibitors. Last year, at Helston’s Hospice Gallery, I hung my first one-man. Then, in November, I was one of three visual artists asked to show in Cornwall’s first disability arts festival. (‘Djamu!’, meaning ‘I Am Here!’ in Aborigine, at the Acorn Arts Centre, Penzance.) This year I’ve been busy prearing for my first one-man show in my home town, St Ives’ September Art Show ran parallel to St Ives September Festival. Plans are already being made for next year, with a one-man booked in Torpoint for January, and another in Redruth later in the spring. For the first time in a very long time I’m regaining my confidence, who knows where my art might take me – if I get the right breaks!
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