The darkness of drug addiction

Denise Dowdeswell is having her first solo art exhibition at Washington Arts Centre.
Denise Dowdeswell is having her first solo art exhibition at Washington Arts Centre.
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ART student Denise Dowdeswell is painting a real picture of heroin addiction for her debut solo exhibition.

Experimenting with abstract and semi-abstract painting using acrylic and oil, Denise is hoping her thought-provoking show, Devotion, will encourage people to debate the dangers of drugs.

Denise, 46, said: “There are various paintings in the exhibition with each one exploring a different issue relating to heroin addiction and paranoia and those sorts of things.

“There are various images in my paintings and some of them are quite miserable and show a bleak side of heroin use.

“I look at the paranoia and misery it can bring, so it’s quite a grim exhibition and I’m not setting out to glorify it.

“I don’t offer any answers, I just aim to provoke some thought.”

Denise, who is about to start the final year of her art foundation degree at City of Sunderland College, decided to explore the topic after being asked to carry out a project on beauty at college.

She became fascinated by Turner Prize winner Damien Hirst’s work and her ideas snowballed from there.

“We were given the title of beauty and I started looking at work from various artists, including Damien Hirst,” Denise, of Ashbrooke, said.

“He looks at beauty and the beauty of life and the eventuality of death, so I decided to take it a step further and look at the way humans seem determined to bring that eventuality of death closer through things like smoking, taking drugs and drinking heavily.”

Now the talented artist is gearing up to share her work with others as she prepares for her first solo exhibition.

“I’ve had joint exhibitions with people before but this is my first solo one,” she said.

“We had a group exhibition at college and I was the only person who sold a painting, so that was really good.”

After finishing her foundation degree, Denise will go on to complete the final year of the Fine Art degree at Sunderland University.

She then hopes to do an MA in Art.

Twitter: @sunechocrime