May 2024.
I am currently engaged in a project challenging public attitudes to rough sleeping and homelessness with the Society of St James. Also researching how portraiture can be used as a tool in breaking cyclical narratives of negative entrenched, internalised ideas of self-worth and boost self-esteem particularly in difficult areas of mental ill-health, drug and alcohol dependency. I shall be updating this page with new paintings in the comings months. 

The paintings below are of Alan fully entrenched for over 30 years has now been housed. Originally from London he came to Portsmouth around eight years ago. The portrait is one of three paintings that were completed as part of post lockdown project and exhibited at Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery as part of Portsmouth Revisited exhibition 2022.

Alan: oil on canvas.
Alan: oil on canvas.
Alan: oil on canvas.


This is an ongoing mini-project based on carers and their stories of looking after loved ones. The care system is coming under more and more strain as we live longer and end of life care becomes more and more complex in terms of medical care and quality of life.

Richard is Helen’s dad and she his carer. These particular portraits came about through Helen finding out about the project and inviting me to meet Richard - also an artist. During the sittings the open and candid conversations about life and death were refreshing and joyful.

Father and daughter, Richard & Helen: oil on canvas.
Richard: oil on canvas.
Richard: oil on canvas.


We Don't Need Culture is a project based in and around the Portsmouth area in association with Portsmouth City Council and Arts Council England with the aim to expose working arts practice to local people using portraiture as a tool for a re-examination of the word ‘culture', and to examine the difference between the ideals and reality of social structures that culture represents. Targeted at local people who connect the word culture with elitist connotations, the project delivers new perspectives through portrait painting exhibited in freely accessable areas such as community centres.

The newly build Somerstown Central Hub back in 2015 was ideal for exhibition space which I filled with portraits of local people which I'm still maintain to this day.

Somerstown Central Hub, Portsmouth.
Somerstown Central Hub, Portsmouth.
Somerstown Central Hub, Portsmouth.

This is the Art Invisable gang.


Raki with his painting.

Ellie with her painting.


Sam with his painting.

Rene and Jess.


Brian with his painting.


Three years later I did the same In Paulsgrove. I converted an old butchers shop into a working studio and art gallery. The kids would knock of school and come in to look at some art always with the question "Will you paint me? And I would alway reply, "That's why I'm here". The resulting works are now hanging in Paulsgrove Comminty Centre.

Interior of the Paulsgrove studio/gallery.

Popping in after school.

Popping in after school.

Paulsgrove Community Centre.

Interior of the Paulsgrove studio/gallery.

Popping in after school.

A painting from a visit to the boxing club.

Paulsgrove Community Centre.

The old butchers shop, Allaway Avenue, Paulsgrove.

Popping in after school.

Spike. Amputee footballer.

Paulsgrove Community Centre.


Molly at the Royal Academy

If any picture is going to sum up We Don't Need Culture it this one. Molly is Sandra’s granddaughter. I entered an oil painting of Sandra AKA Nan into the RA Summer Show 2018 and it got exhibited. Naturally, I splashed it all over social media and Sandra’s daughter, Jacqui sent me this picture. Molly and Jacqui made a special trip to go up and see the painting. Neither have ever been to an art exhibition before.

WE DON"T NEED CULTURE, A brief history...

We don’t need culture started where a lot of ideas start - down the pub... In 2009 I had been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London as part of the BP Awards. For a portrait artist, this is the very biggest of deals, the NPG is the holy shrine of portraiture in Britain if not the world. It was one big, massive stamp of validation that us sensitive artists need.

The picture I painted was a Portsmouth football fan - THE Portsmouth football fan. John Westwood or John Anthony Portsmouth Football Club Westwood - yup, he changed it by deedpoll - is not just well known in Pompey but very much amongst the football fraternity up and down the country and divides opinion of his fanaticism.

Steve, the manager of my local watering hole posed the question, and it’s the only time I’ve been asked the question - why? “Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good painting but of all the people you could paint, why him?” Well, I started started with usual arty talk banging on about adding the cultural fabric of the city…….all Steve heard was, blah, blah, blah. He stopped me, quite rightly, mid-rant and said,”Mate. This is Pompey. We don’t do culture.” Whaddya mean ‘we don’t do culture? Everything is cultural. This is pub culture. “No mate” he says. “We don’t need culture. We got the Navy and the football.” What about sports and culture - Football is a culture.” And on it went. A beered up conversation circling round two very different ideas about culture.

In the end, it was my fault. I was coming from a privileged, middle class, university educated, art can change the world, perspective. Steve, was quite right. He was saying, ‘Don’t patronise me.’ And I’m saying, ‘hey, I’m one of you’, but that wasn’t what he heard. So I had to reassess what I wanted as an artist.

It can be very conflicting being an artist. Sometimes I feel dislocated from everybody as though I am on the outside looking in and yet accepting I am a part of the community. This project is about recognising that conflict.

We all live in a different cultural bubbles within a wider society. If I want people to appreciate and see the value art and culture and get them to understand what I do as artist, I’ve got to put in some leg work and change my attitude. Stop assuming things, judging people and listen. Almost eight years in I still catch myself making sweeping judgements but, I’m getting better at following my own advice - if you want know or understand something or somebody. Draw them. Paint them.


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