Ex-brickie builds new life with art

A former bricklayer has used his passion for art to help overcome his bipolar disorder and make money for charities.

Thursday, 20th June 2019, 4:18 pm
Sunderland University student Andrew Parkin with his exhibition Picture: DAVID WOOD

As well as being in the final year of his degree in fine art at the University of Sunderland, Andrew Parkin has created an exhibition of stunning portraits of military figures, past and present, from almost every rank.

Subjects include Sunderland soldier Nathan Cuthbertson who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008, Private Lee Rigby, Wearside WWI flying ace Claude Ridley, Prince Harry and Andrew’s uncle Bobby Parkin - a Desert Rat who was murdered in 1966.

The 50 pictures, created with a palette knife, are on display and available to buy at £50 each. Proceeds go to St Benedict’s Hospice in Ryhope and Veterans In Crisis Sunderland.

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Andrew, 57, from Seaburn, has had quite a life. He intends to complete his degree and progress to a masters. Apart from his bricklaying past he has been a debt collector and a boxer with 70 fights. He is also a great-grandfather.

He feels that painting has been crucial as he deals with his condition.

He said: “Painting comes from the inside. It’s been quite a journey for me to get here and it’s very close to my heart.

“I was diagnosed as bipolar five years ago. Someone asked me why I didn’t pick up a pencil and start drawing. So I did.

“It’s given me a new lease of life and it’s a lot better than crying over a bottle of beer.”

Andrew’s free exhibition is open 10am to 4pm until Friday, 21 June at Sunderland University’s Priestman Building in Green Terrace.