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Compulsion to Paint is ‘inspiring’

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[L to R] Barry John MBE and Steve Portwood: Showcasing Clashing Tornadoes as part of Compulsion to Paint

THE HERALD attended the fantastic show, Compulsion to Paint by Steve Portwood at The VC Gallery on Wednesday (Feb 8).

The work by Mr Portwood coincides with Bi-Polar Awareness Month, and truly is astounding. His work perfectly captures what it feels like to be plagued by depression, with dramatic, thought-provoking pieces of art.

Mr Portwood spoke to The Herald, and explained what his art work meant to him. We were shown a painting entitled Whirlpool, with it’s deep blue colours containing words that describe the feelings that you may have whilst suffering from depression.

Mr Portwood said: “With this piece, I was trying to show that you can feel suffocated in your own misery and pity, and the words tell you what you can feel.”

Next up was a dark piece called Clashing Tornadoes. Mr Portwood said: “This is the other end of the scale. This shows the manic stages of bipolar, when you’re feeling destructive and chaotic.”

Another piece entitled On The Rapids, showed a boat full of men wearing clothing that was suitable for being out on the water. All except one man at the back of the boat, wearing no safety clothing at all, siting with his knees up to his chest.

Mr Portwood explained: “The person at the back is throwing caution to the wind. He is beyond courageous, because he has no fear. It shows the impulsiveness and the recklessness you sometimes feel, because you simply don’t care any more.”

Breaking Chains was a piece that said ‘Live without restraints’, and shows a chain containing all of the words that Mr Portwood associates with depression.

Mr Portwood said: “Breaking Chains is a way of saying don’t let depression hold you back. and don’t let your diagnosis define who you are or stop you from doing the things you want to do.”

The Herald asked Mr Portwood how it felt to see his work on display, and what he hopes to achieve. He said: “I feel proud of what I’ve got. I wasn’t sure it would look as good as it does!

“Art helped me at the time. It helpoed me to keep busy and not let things get on top of me. And, if people like it, that’s great!

“I think the more stuff that’s out there about depression the better educated we are about it. Hopefully people who may have had these feelings before can see that they’re not alone. I hope they can see within the paintings and know they can live without restraints and live a normal life.

“Be yourself, not your illness.”

Barry John MBE, founder of The VC Gallery said: “Steve’s work is very passionate and reflective, and he works with an aim to portray a message, and to destigmatise mental health in the community.

“He paints biographically, but also can turn a hand to all styles of the artistic spectrum. I am confident when I say that Steve is one of the most productive and hard working members of the community at The VC Gallery. His shows are inspiring and a lot of mental health organisations have taken a huge interest in his work.”

Mr Portwood has also received international recognition, and his work will be sent to Italy to go on display in March.

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Haverfordwest: Fresh artist on the block ready for exhibition

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AN EXHIBITION showcasing the work of an extremely talented local artist will open on Monday, August 1 at The VC Gallery in High Street, Haverfordwest.

Maxine Bunston from Haverfordwest, who has only had one year of experience in the art industry, has managed to create a huge range of fantastic art work, that she will be proudly presenting next week.

The Herald caught up with Maxine, to talk about the art that she will be exhibiting, and what it means to her. She said: “It’s escapism from mental health. It keeps me distracted from low self esteem, especially when people have commented on my appearance. But, mainly, it’s a distraction from mental health and self harm.”

Many of Maxine’s beautiful paintings depict delicate fairies, and The Herald asked Maxine why she decided to feature these in her work. She said: “They’re mystical and magical, and it’s escapism in the way of feeling like a child: Everything is innocent, and it’s the light-heartedness of life, really.”

Maxine has long struggled with mental health, and her art has reflected her emotions and what she was going through at the time.

Everything is innocent: Maxine paints to escape from mental health

Friend of Maxine and regular at The VC Gallery, Mia Gillies, said: “I’ve known Maxine for 10 years, and she started doing art at Bro Cerwen. I’ve seen her evolve from celtic style into really detailed fairy work, with dots and lots of action going on.

“She has really streamlined her work and now, you recognise it as Maxine’s work. It’s also not messy and more, it’s really clean and very intricate.”

All of the paintings at Maxine’s exhibition, which runs from August 1 until August 31, are for sale with prints available on request.

When asked if she classes herself as an artist, Maxine said: “No, I don’t like to call myself an artist. If someone asks me what I do, I don’t say that I’m an artist.”

If you would like to visit The VC Gallery to see Maxine’s wonderful work on display, you can do so from 10am until 5pm, Monday to Friday. To view Maxine’s work online, you can also visit www.facebook.com/escapistfantasyart

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Teacher recruits family and friends for Tenby 10k run

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Declan Lynch (kneeling, right): With a selection of the runners he has recruited

AN YSGOL BRO GWAUN teacher has recruited nearly two dozen friends and family members to participate in a 10km run in Tenby on Sunday (Jul 30) in memory of his mother.

The annual Tenby 10k starts at 11am and follows a scenic route in and around Tenby.

Declan Lynch, an IT teacher, is raising money for Paul Satori following the death of his mother, Ellen, last year.

On his JustGiving page, Declan said: “Early last year my Mum, Ellen, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. After a long battle, she passed away peacefully on November 7th 2016.

“One promise I made to her was that I would get fit and raise money for the charities that gave us as a family invaluable support and equipment to make Mum as comfortable as possible; one of these being the Paul Sartori Foundation.

“Money can’t bring Mum back, nor can show our appreciation to all the charities that helped us at these hard times, however by doing whatever little I can to help will enable anyone going through tough times to have the same support that we received.”

So far, Declan has raised £1501, exceeding his initial goal, but he hopes to raise more in one final push for donations before the run.

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Charity Bike Ride returns next month

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HAVERFORDWEST HORNETS will be running the Pembrokeshire Charity Bike Ride on August 6 from the Haverfordwest Rugby Club at 8am.

All money raised is going to Paul Sartotri, Prostate Cymru and Pembrokeshire Special Needs Gymnastics Group.

There are three routes to choose from:

Family ride to Neyland Marina (17 miles) along cycle path from Haverfordwest – Children go free but must be accompanied by a paying adult. Children who fund raise £20 will get a free entry into Folly Farm.

28 Mile route (Middle Distance)- taking in some views and a few hills to stretch the legs. (Under 16 must be accompanied)

50 Mile route out to St Davids and back. (Under 16 must be accompanied)

All routes will be on open roads/paths but marshals will be situated throughout the rides. Bike maintenance will be on hand from Mikes Bikes.

The event will conclude with a refreshments and entertainment.

In 2001, Phil and Tim Hughes got together with Mark Rendell of Mike’s Bikes and some other cycling friends set up the Pembrokeshire Charity Bike Rode and raised £1080.

Due to this small event being such a success they decided to stage the event again and it grew with the participation of a larger number of cyclists in 2002 and the event raised over £3000 and has continued to grow in popularity every year.

From this, the event has become a firm date in the Pembrokeshire calendar and to date the Pembrokeshire Charity Bike Ride has raised over £145,000 for local charities including Paul Sartori, Ward 10, Pembrokeshire Puffins, SNAP, HOPE, Shalom House, Pembrokeshire Guide Dogs, FRAME and many more.

In 2009, Pembrokeshire Charity Bike Ride became registered a charity.

The bike ride is now run by a small committee of volunteers from the Haverfordwest Hornets. They receive excellent financial sponsorship from local companies which means that 100% of the funds raised go to Pembrokeshire Charities.

 

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