Josie Russell launches first art show on Anglesey

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A young woman seriously injured in a brutal hammer attack which killed her mother and sister has started exhibiting as an artist.

Josie Russell, her mother Lin and sister Megan were targeted by Michael Stone in Chillenden, Kent, in 1996.

Ms Russell, now 23, who later moved to Wales with her father, said she is fed up with being recognised for her past but has "learned to live with it".

Now 15 of her works are going on show in Anglesey.

Ms Russell has spoken of her excitement about putting on her first exhibition at Plas Newydd, a National Trust property on the island.

After gaining a degree in graphic design, she has been selling her pictures, which include landscapes of north Wales, for up to £200.

The exhibition marks another milestone in her extraordinary journey.

She writes on her website: "My deep-rooted passion for art and design began when I was very young, and carries on to the present day.

"When I am not working on art and craft projects I can usually be found outdoors - be that in my garden, or else walking through the beautiful hills of the Snowdonia National Park.

"I feel a deep connection with the countryside, so perhaps it is no surprise that the unspoilt mountains, flora and fauna of North Wales form the present basis for most of my creative work."

Ms Russell suffered severe head injuries in the hammer attack in July 1996.

She was attacked aged nine with her mother and sister as they walked home from school in Chillenden, near Canterbury.

Because she was the key witness, Ms Russell had to be guided through their deaths to provide video evidence for Michael Stone's trial.

He is serving life for the murders and will not be considered for release until 2031.

Ms Russell now plans to travel around north Wales showing her work at craft fairs.

The Bangor University graphic design graduate is also selling her work at arts and crafts fairs and through her website.

Image caption,
Ms Russell uses recycled materials for most of her textile art-work

"It's very exciting and I've been quite surprised that I've already sold three pictures, and I only put them up on Friday," she said.

Ms Russell works part-time at a supermarket, but is hoping that she can eventually give that up.

She said she was inspired by the mountains of the Nantlle Valley in Gwynedd where she lives.

"When I began I made flowers, but then I started on the mountains which are very popular.

'Extensive rummaging'

"I get an image in my head and try and copy what I see," she said.

The artist is a common visitor to charity shops as she uses recycled materials in her work.

"I became aware very early on that beautiful, unique artwork does not have to cost hundreds of pounds to create or cause a detriment to our surroundings," she said.

Because of this, she said she tries very hard not to buy new materials, and only resorts to purchasing "canvasses, certain threads, or spare parts for my sewing machine".

"The rest - frames, buttons, beads, ribbons, and off-cuts of strange, striking fabrics - are sourced from extensive rummaging in my local charity shops, recycled from my own clothes, or else kindly donated by generous family and friends," she said.

Ms Russell said she is excited about the future.

"I want to try and experiment a lot more, and get out into the mountains and take a lot of photographs for my work," she said.

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