Stroke survivor captures life in and around King’s Lynn for new art exhibition

Local character Juggling Jim busking in the High Street, the bright lights of The Mart at night and a busy flower stall in the Vancouver Quarter are some of the familiar King's Lynn sights captured – and elevated – by stroke survivor James Gledhill in his latest art exhibition.

Working from photographs, the 33-year-old has created a series of colourful snapshots recording fleeting moments in and around the town, using oil paint to inject movement and beauty into the scenes.

Landmark buildings such as St John's Church in The Walks and Castle Rising feature, but James celebrates the everyday – shoppers carrying bags, the bus station, trains on the platform – and stays true to the original image, choosing, for example, not to omit the street signs from Nelson Street.

'There has been a really good reaction so far,' he said. 'There has been lots of positive feedback in the comments book. I would have liked to have done a couple more paintings, but there just wasn't time.'

The exhibition, Master Stroke, is James's second at the King's Lynn Arts Centre since suffering a devastating stroke in 2004.

Aged just 26, he collapsed with what was thought to be an asthma attack while playing football and was later transferred to the neurological critical care unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

His family were initially warned James was unlikely to survive and he was left completely paralysed on his dominant right-hand side.

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'I lost all my speech,' he said.

James, of South Wootton, stayed at Addenbrooke's for five months to undergo intensive rehabilitation and needed to learn to speak from scratch.

His mother, Jane, said: 'When James came home he was angry, frustrated, thoroughly depressed and felt cheated that his life had been whipped from under his feet.'

Jane formed a local branch of Different Strokes in 2007 to help other young stroke survivors in the area and art classes started at the Arts Centre a year later.

James rediscovered his love of art and, encouraged by local artists, he began to dabble with painting using his left hand.

Noticing his talent, staff at the centre took him under their wing and the first exhibition of his work, A Stroke of Genius, was held in 2010.

'The support James has received from the staff and facilities at the Arts Centre has been immeasurable,' Jane said.

'Through their kindness, support and loyalty, James has flourished and is now experiencing a feeling of self-worth and achievement.'

The centre secured funding from the Weiss Foundation so James could have one-to-one tuition four hours a week with artist Jon Parry.

But the money ran out at the end of 2010 and he has since relied on small grants and fundraising to keep going.

He is looking for sponsors so he can continue to work with Jon and improve both as an artist and in himself.

'Art has been life-changing for James and he is worried that his tuition will have to stop,' his mother added.

The exhibition runs in the Red Barn until June 16 and entry is free. Unsold works will then go on sale at the Lattice House pub, in Chapel Street.

To find out more about sponsoring James, email janegledhill90@aol.com

daisy.wallage@archant.co.uk

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