I recently had my first ever art exhibition – Grasses, arses & trees. It was to raise funds for The Big Issue Foundation but it got me thinking……..

Art got me out. I was a troubled boy, in and out of homelessness as a runaway, and then put into boys prisons and institutions before I arrived at a very special reformatory. Where if you said you wanted to climb Everest they would try and accommodate you.

Here I got to pick up a pencil at 16, and then a brush, and then began drawing grasses and trees and ponds and rivers. And read the life of Vincent Van Gogh lent to me by a screw (officer); and wanted to cut my ear off and paint a lot. They taught me gardening as well, and probably my favourite plant to draw was the Zonal Pelegonium, or common Geranium to you.

Out of the nick I got into art school, Chelsea School of art, where I flourished as a considered young genius; until I met a girl and then I lost the plot, got nicked again, went on the run again, and slept rough again. And wandered in the desert until I met a girl again, who got me drawing again. And looked at me as the precious genius who got waylaid.

So I started drawing again, but then got caught up in politics, and then raising a family. And then started The Big Issue and all around me was need, and pain and suffering; and I got caught up in trying to help the homeless to help themselves.

“Grasses, Arses and Trees” was my attempt at rectifying my neglect of my abilities. My work that I humbly lay before you on the 6th of September until the 17th of that said month, I hoped they would leap off of the walls and into the bedrooms and lounges of those who liked what they saw. So that I can then hand over some cash to The Big Issue Foundation for the continuation of their work.

Some people have said to me that in a hundred years time my works will be hanging on the walls of the New York Metropolitan museum of art, the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the Tate Gallery in London and at the Uffizi in Florence; and maybe even the Louvre in Paris will have made room for my efforts. To this I can only reply that this is not the time for exaggeration; for it offends the natural modesty I feel when looking at my oeuvre. No, such comments are an insult and I will therefore not have them repeated in my presence.

In all modesty I sign myself Professor Dr John Bird,M.B.E. BA hons (Ealing), Fellow of University Liverpool John Moores, Doctor of Roehampton University, Doctor of Letters Oxford Brookes, Professor of Journalism at Lincoln University, A
Level Art (grade A), and patron of the Old Folks Coal Fund.

I think in life, if you’ve come up rough you’ve always got to try and remain normal. I hope that those who came and bought my work enjoy it, and if you don’t well you’ve given to a worthy cause!

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