Familiar faces - artist’s caricatures of Norwich’s Big Issue sellers
PUBLISHED: 14:47 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:47 19 July 2018
The beaming faces of the Big Issue vendors add charm to Norwich.
But while we politely accept or decline the offer of a magazine, one artist changed the course of his day to stop, talk to and sketch one of them.
The decision also changed the course of his life - and has led to a series of caricatures of the vendors in the magazine.
Norwich cartoonist Christopher Nairne had been feeling suicidal as he battled depression and anxiety.
But he struck up a friendship with Shane Lakey, the street seller on Davey Place and soon began to draw him.
He said: “For a few days we seemed to cross paths so often it became awkward not to at least smile and nod, and there’s only so many times you can walk past someone before you decide to either say hello or treat them like part of the scenery.
“It brought me out of my trance. I wanted to give him something special to say thank you so I did one of my portraits of him, and a few days later he came up to me and gave me some drawing stuff he’d had for a while and thought I might put to good use.”
Mr Lakey said: “When he came up to me he was saying what an awesome thing I do and how hard we all work to sell the magazine and that really made my day. A lot of people look the other way and say, “Get a job” and they don’t see that we’re working.”
Jim Hannah, 59, who sells the magazine on Dove Street in Norwich, is another subject. He said: “I first saw the caricature in April and I think it’s brilliant – it’s captured everything, it even has the cigarette in my mouth.”
Simon Gravell, 50, who sells the magazine outside Top Shop in Haymarket, said: “I think it’s fantastic and is a really great likeness for me. Christopher always comes to say hello and he’s also a fantastic cartoonist. I’d like to say thanks to him for doing this – it’s really good and my girlfriend loved it.”
Jim Graver, Big Issue East Anglian regional distribution manager, was excited by the new-found friendship: “It’s always nice to have Norwich vendors make it into the Big Issue, and now Chris and Shane stay in contact on and off.”
Vendors buy magazines for £1.25 and sell to the public for £2.50, keeping the difference. In this way the magazine provides them with the means to earn a legitimate income.