Former Sunderland boxer-turned-artist creates knockout prison art

Artist Andrew Parkin's prison cell installation.
Artist Andrew Parkin's prison cell installation.

A former boxer-turned-artist has swapped one canvas for another to raise funds for a London exhibition.

Andrew Parkin, a second year Sunderland University fine art student, is set to exhibit his work entitled ‘Strangeways to Art’ in the capital this April, but hopes his latest project will raise over £1,080 needed to take it there.

Artist Andrew Parkin's prison cell installation.

Artist Andrew Parkin's prison cell installation.

Diagnosed as bi-polar three years ago, Andrew, from King’s Avenue, Seaburn, discovered creating art was the perfect therapy to deal with his condition and channel his new-found creativity.

As part of his studies, the 55-year-old created a body of work which is tied in with the theme of notorious criminals and prison.

Following on from the exhibition’s success at the university, Mr Parkin was invited by Graceful Boxing Promotions to exhibit his art at the ‘Road to Spain’ boxing event at Tooting Leisure Centre on April 1.

“In order to raise funds for this event, Peter Wolland, programme leader of fine arts, has allowed me to convert a space in the Priestman Building into a prison cell using the art technique of Trompe L’oeil,” the dad-of three said.

Artist Andrew Parkin's prison cell installation.

Artist Andrew Parkin's prison cell installation.

“Fellow students and members of the public are invited to come in and graffiti the three walls of the cell with comments or messages.

“As well as leaving a message, people will also have the opportunity to have their photograph taken inside the prison cell.

“For this they will have to make a donation.

“Half of the money raised will go to Sunderland Ex-Boxers’ Association, of which I am secretary.

“The other half will help fund transporting the artwork to and from my exhibition in London.”

The exhibition set for London includes 12 miniature prison doors, a series of paintings of well-known prisoners and two busts, one of Charles Bronson, considered Britain’s most violent prisoner and the other of Lenny McLean.

On his fundraising initiative, Mr Parkin added: “The first two graffiti messages were from two good friends of mine.

“Harry Lister wrote, ‘Evil is the man who holds the key to another man’s freedom.’

“The second graffiti message was from Dale Brendan Hyde, who has recently had his vigilante novel ‘The Ink Run’ published and he will include a photo of the prison cell on his website.”

If you would like to visit and leave a message, then contact Andrew Parkin on Facebook and he will arrange to meet you at the Priestman Building between 9am and 5pm until February 8.