Beds, Herts & Bucks

Art turning Bedford homeless man's life around

Alex Watt
Image caption Alex Watt, 21, said he uses original images to create his distinctive artwork using a computer

A former homeless man who thought he might be dead soon says he is turning his life around through art.

Alex Watt, 21, who is living at a YMCA property in Bedford, said he was not "going anywhere", was in a "very bad place" due to drink and was "doing silly things".

After two successful art exhibitions he is planning to go back to college and train to be a graphic designer.

The charity said his future was "positive" due to his hard work.

Image copyright Alex Watt
Image caption Depths of the Marina by Alex Watt was bought by the YMCA and is on display to showcase the skills Alex has developed
Image copyright Alex Watt
Image caption After his first successful exhibition, Mr Watt said he was able to buy his own laptop so he could create more of his own work

"I was just putting the wrong things first and I ended up messing up a little bit," he said.

He said he was homeless and sofa-surfing for about five years until he got a place in YMCA accommodation in 2017.

After being encouraged to take part in an exhibition showcasing the work of homeless people, he said it gave him confidence in his art.

"I didn't think I had the ability. I didn't see myself getting any further than that year," he said.

Image caption Paul Kellett, who works for YMCA Bedfordshire has helped mentor Alex Watt

With support from Paul Kellet, his mentor at YMCA Bedfordshire, Mr Watt said he found new focus.

Mr Kellett said he felt "positive" about the future.

"I've been doing this work for 30 years and it's stories like Alex's that keep me going and believing," he said.

Since taking part in an exhibition of homeless people's art at Bedford's Riverside North complex, he has had a solo show at King's House on Ampthill Road where he sold all five of his paintings for about £400.

"If I wasn't in the YMCA, I think I would be going round and round in circles, and probably end up on the streets or worse, just not alive really because I did not think I would get this far at all," said Mr Watt.

Image copyright Alex Watt
Image caption Almond Blossoms by Van Gough was the inspiration for Alex Watts' picture called Burning Blossoms
Image caption Alex has a keen interest in music as well as art

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