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Familiar faces - artist’s caricatures of Norwich’s Big Issue sellers

PUBLISHED: 14:47 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:47 19 July 2018

Other familiar faces were sketched including Simon Gravell, who sells the magazine outside of Topshop in Haymarket. Picture: Contributed

Other familiar faces were sketched including Simon Gravell, who sells the magazine outside of Topshop in Haymarket. Picture: Contributed

Archant

The beaming faces of the Big Issue vendors add charm to Norwich.

These caricatures detail each emotion and story of the local magazine sellers and were gifted to the Big Issue sellers. Picture: ContributedThese caricatures detail each emotion and story of the local magazine sellers and were gifted to the Big Issue sellers. Picture: Contributed

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.

Mark �Ziggy� Organ, who sells the magazine at Bridewell Alley in Norwich wants the caricatures to be made in to a calendar. Picture: ContributedMark �Ziggy� Organ, who sells the magazine at Bridewell Alley in Norwich wants the caricatures to be made in to a calendar. Picture: Contributed

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.

The Big Issue, the magazine sold by vendors to lift themselves out of poverty, is available to buy across the UK for £2.50. Picture: ContributedThe Big Issue, the magazine sold by vendors to lift themselves out of poverty, is available to buy across the UK for £2.50. Picture: Contributed

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.”

Jim Hannah: �I think it�s fantastic that Christopher has done this and gone on to do three or four other vendors too. He buys the mag from me regularly. Picture: ContributedJim Hannah: �I think it�s fantastic that Christopher has done this and gone on to do three or four other vendors too. He buys the mag from me regularly. Picture: Contributed

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.”

Jim Hannah, 59,  who sells the magazine of Dove Street said the caricature Jim Hannah, 59, who sells the magazine of Dove Street said the caricature "captured everything, it even has the cigarette". Picture: Contributed

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.”

Cartoonist Christopher Nairne struck up a friendship the Big Issue street-seller Shane Lakey - to thank him he drew this caricature. Picture: ContributedCartoonist Christopher Nairne struck up a friendship the Big Issue street-seller Shane Lakey - to thank him he drew this caricature. Picture: Contributed

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.

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