This month’s cover illustration comes from Craig Burr, Craig has been homeless for two years. He previously ran his own IT company but when circumstances conspired against him and a relationship ended, he was left in debt and without a roof over his head.
I was introduced to Craig via Betty Frost who runs a local, community based art group at St Augustine’s Church, for people struggling with mental health or other wellbeing issues.
Craig explained “When I first became homeless I became involved with other people in the same situation, this had a negative impact on me and I ended up hooked on Spice. I realised that I needed to separate myself from this community and those influences and found myself a place to sleep away from the group and came off the drugs.
“I initially went along to the art club as it was warm and there was always a coffee and biscuits” explains Craig. “I wasn’t there for the art, I’d never even drawn before and it took a while to feel comfortable with what I was doing. I never had any confidence in what I did, and was anxious about what people would think but I stuck with it. It gives me a sense of escape and I’m hopeful that it might give me a way out of my situation and back into society.
“For me the art is about getting into the detail whilst I’m working I forget about things and lose myself in what I’m doing.”
Craig describes his work as ‘artwork you can’t glance at as you walk past’. The cover illustration is actual size, he works at an unbelievable level of detail, the more you look the more you see.
He showed me a piece he’d started at 3:30am that day, “I’ve had three attempts at this, I’ve had a picture of a rocket in my head where the launch pad is a stone viaduct and the control tower an old town.” The work was unfinished, he works in pen and ink so one mistake and he’ll have to start again, he has an incredible amount of patience.
“The art club ran an exhibition, I’ve never shown my work to anyone outside the club so was worried about the response. A guy liked what I did and asked for a commissioned piece of a steam train.” The resulting train (all from memory) has a steam trail full of detail, dinosaurs, whales, stags, birds, superheroes and much more, again the longer you look the more you see.
Craig’s drawings are positive and show a strong sense of life, amazing when you consider his current situation. “I’m hoping my art can get me off the street, I’ve been unable to get a place of my own and I hope to start earning from sales or commissions. My work is available to buy (contact Betty via the Gates Art Club) and will be on display at Brimington library.”
Our cover this month is a commission from Craig, if you look really closely you might be able to spot a tiny crooked spire nestled in the windmill. To support Craig we’re planning to auction off the original copy via our facebook page and also by email or phone. If you’d like to support Craig with a bid please get in touch or check out Facebook where we’ll keep the highest bid details etc.
m: 07764 801080
The Gates Art Club
Betty Frost is a volunteer on the Church on the Bus that serves food and drink to homeless people in town. “I’d always wanted to set up a community arts group and after helping on the bus we established a small group that met at the Gates in the town centre” explains Betty.
“We obtained a two-year grant from the Peoples Health Trust and we now run three sessions a week at St Augustine’s Church on Derby Road, we have about 25 people coming throughout the week.”
The club held their first exhibition in June this year which was very well received and Craig’s work was at the centre of the exhibition.