Northampton homeless day centre uses art to build confidence

A display on the wall at the Jesus Centre's cafe The exhibition will continue at the Jesus Centre until 31 January

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A homeless day centre in Northamptonshire has been inspiring some of its most disadvantaged clients by getting them to create art.

The Hope Day Centre in Northampton has organised an exhibition of their paintings, which can be seen at the Jesus Centre's café in the town.

Tony Smith, who is one of the artists displaying his work, said he was proud of what he has done.

"It has built up my self-esteem and confidence after feeling very low six or seven months ago," he said.

Mr Smith suffered from depression for a number of years before seeking help.

"It was friends that I made at Street Church that recommended I came to the Hope Centre," he said.

'Express emotions'

Mr Smith was inspired to take up art after seeing the workshops, held by local artist Lee Burrows.

"As a young boy I couldn't draw anything. I wanted to express my emotions and feelings in some other way, so I asked to join the arts project," he said.

Tony Smith working on his next painting Tony Smith is inspired by Chinese culture and uses it in his artwork

The project is coordinated by Helen Harris, who said it motivated the artists and helped them to feel fulfilled.

"The exhibition gives the artists a chance to show some of the stuff that they have been doing and it fills them with pride," she said.

There are 40 paintings on display at the café and the majority of them are for sale with prices ranging from £15 to £40.

"We have decided to split the sales from each painting 50-50, so the artist gets 50% of the takings," said Ms Harris.

Mr Burrows has been running the workshops for three years.

He said: "I went to the Hope Centre just to volunteer and probably help in the kitchens, but when they found out that I was an artist they asked me to run a workshop."

'Good artists'

Up to 10 clients attend the class every Tuesday where they clear the tables in one corner of the room and start to paint.

"It took a while to get regulars because of the way clients use the Hope Centre on an intermittent basis, but after a few weeks that changed," said Mr Burrows.

In three years there have been some good artists that Mr Burrows has spotted.

"We had a guy called Ambrose who did calligraphy. He wrote a poem and had it displayed and not only was it bought up very quickly, he was commissioned to work on three other projects," he said.

The exhibition will continue at the Jesus Centre café until 31 January.

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