Stroke survivor artist Russell Haines exhibits work

image copyrightRussell Haines
image captionRussell Haines in his art studio in Gloucester

An artist who began painting while recovering from a stroke will have his work shown at the Tower of London.

Russell Haines, from Gloucester, created an exhibition of portraits of people from different cultural backgrounds.

The exhibition Faith, Hope, Charity includes 21 pictures of people who are all painted the same colour.

Looking back on his health struggles, Mr Haines said: "I could never have imagined calling myself an artist."

Russell Haines, now 54, had a brain stem stroke about 10 years ago. After the stroke led to depression, his GP recommended he should work with charity Artlift, which provides free art courses for people with long term mental and physical health conditions.

image copyrightRussell Haines
image captionMr Haines had never seriously taken up art or picked up a paintbrush until he was prescribed art therapy by his doctor

Mr Haines had never painted before but realised he had talent after he began creating artworks.

He said he "paints with his emotions" and since becoming an artist, he has not needed medication.

Mr Haines said: "Ten years ago when I was first prescribed Artlift I could never have imagined calling myself an artist, let alone having my work shown in a place like the Tower of London

"It just shows how powerful the arts can be in helping with a person's mental health and wellbeing and so much more should be done to promote this to people of all ages and backgrounds."

image copyrightRussell Haines
image captionMr Haines said he was excited about showing his work at the Tower of London

The paintings include portraits of murdered Gloucester hairdresser Hollie Gazzard's father and TV presenter Dr Janina Ramirez.

He also painted Zahra Alibadi, 25, who claimed asylum four years ago from Iraq and moved to Gloucester where she says she has felt welcomed.

She said: "We are all humans and we have to respect each other and we are all the same."

image copyrightRussell Haines
image captionMr Haines said being able to exhibit his work at the Tower of London is a great opportunity.

The exhibition in The Chapel Royal in the Tower of London will start on 6 March.

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