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Stroud man with learning disabilities makes gallery debut

An artist from Gloucestershire with learning disabilities is exhibiting his paintings this month at a Stroud gallery.

Rob, who is supported by national learning disability charity Hft, will be showcasing 20 pieces of his work at Lansdown Hall from 17 March.  Painted in his trademark abstract style, the artist has coined his work as ‘upside down art’ as many of the paintings can be viewed at any angle. Inspiration for Rob’s art comes from religious architecture including churches and cathedrals, with particular focus on arches and stained glass.

The 75 year old has been painting for as long as he can remember and is supported in his pastime by Hft staff at his supported living service in Stroud. The service, which was rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2018, has an art room regularly used by Rob and his housemates. Support workers are on hand to provide encouragement and ensure people have access to the materials they need. One of Rob’s support workers even supports him to go on trips to exceptional churches and cathedrals in the UK, providing inspiration for his work.

Rob’s art exhibition kicks off with a private viewing for family, friends and Hft staff and will be on show for a week, until 22 March. The artist is a regular visitor to the accessible venue, and regularly drops in to view the latest exhibitions. The chance to display his own art there came about after Rob enquired about opportunities to showcase his art locally.

Rob said: “I’m very proud to have my paintings exhibited at Lansdown Hall. In the future, I’m hoping to do more exhibitions, sell my work and become better known as an artist.”

A man with learning disabilities makes his gallery debut

Emma Bagley, Divisional Director at Hft, said: “We couldn’t be more pleased that Rob has been given the opportunity to showcase his talent to the whole community.  Rob has been supported by Hft for all of his adult life and we’ve loved being able to see him flourish as an artist over the years. His time to shine is finally here and we hope that other people are inspired by his creativity and commitment to his work.

“Rob is one of 60 people in Gloucestershire who we support to live the best life possible. Having the chance to pursue your passions is hugely important, and we work hard to ensure people are able to live with more independence and choice. Rob’s success is testament to this and we’re so proud of him.”

Hft currently supports more than 2,500 people with learning disabilities across the country. This includes supporting people with learning disabilities to live independently in their own homes, providing employment services to help people develop skills and experience for work and helping people to pursue hobbies, make new friends and get involved in their local communities.

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