Art class will help addicts to feel included

A FORMER university lecturer has opened an art workshop in a bid to give something back after he was helped to beat his own demons.

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n Alexander Guy, who has taught art at post-graduate level,  wants to  pass on his experience   Picture: Jamie Simpson.
n Alexander Guy, who has taught art at post-graduate level, wants to pass on his experience Picture: Jamie Simpson.

Alexander Guy has a wealth of experience in art but it wasn't always easy for the creator of the project, In Public.

Having battled homelessness and alcohol addiction in the past, Alexander sees In Public as an ideal opportunity to help people who are suffering similar problems.

By passing on his experience to those who want and need it most, he aims to give a platform to showcase their work while sharing his knowledge to improve their skills.

Alexander, 50, said: "I would like to attract people to this project who are struggling with addiction, to make them feel included."

The scheme is a high street art gallery and studio open to anyone who wants to learn from the established artist – and it grew out of Alexander's own experiences.

After leaving his Dundee home, Alexander moved to London, where he lived for 20 years.

During this time he also travelled to Glasgow's School of Art, where he was a part-time lecturer.

In 2004 he moved to the south of France to live with his daughter, but returned to Glasgow to get help for his addictions.

He admits he had been dabbling with drink and drugs for 16 years but realised he wanted help because he valued his children, life and work too much.

He joined Second Chance, a Glasgow-based service set up to help those with drug and alcohol dependency in 2009, which led to him volunteering to teach art.

He said: "I was a service user at the Second Chance Project and after I graduated at Second Chance I spent a summer there doing rehab recovery from addiction and alcoholism.

"Once that was completed it was all about my teaching instead of institutional teaching, working with the talented people in the community, ex-addicts and people in recovery."

He would like to make others in similar situations feel included.

He added: "They feel like they are integrating with society, social inclusion you could say.

"So it breaks down that barrier.

"On Wednesdays I let the Second Chance Project come down and talk to the guys here".

In Public, based in Glasgow's Stockwell Street, offers many services including life drawing classes, art coaching and exhibition opportunities at an affordable rate.

All the money made from the classes is put towards footing the bills.

Alexander, a graduate from the Royal College of Art in London, has had his work showcased around the globe, with exhibitions in Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as a stint working in America. But he has now decided to teach the people who he feels could benefit most.

He said: "I'd rather use my experience and skills to teach a greater proportion of people who are talented.

"I found most of the people I was doing voluntary work with were extremely talented.

"I would say to them 'You should go study art, you've got the talent' but they can't because they don't have this A-level or that A-level, don't have portfolio advice on offer.

SO this is the kind of service I would like to do. I teach all levels, I have taught degree level and post-graduate level but I would like to teach all."

In Public has already been involved in a project in Glasgow.

In April, "The Flats" project, to paint buildings in association with Glasgow Housing Association, gave anyone who was interested the opportunity to get involved.

It is this sort of inclusion and teamwork that Alexander hopes to achieve once again.

He said: "With the funding I was able to open the studio up to other people such as art students, professional artists, amateurs and what was great was that everyone mingled together."

In Public has once again opened its doors to the public – and is striving to provide a service for the minimum possible fee.

Alexander added: "Now it's a charitable business where I charge people as little as possible to pay for the rent really. My reward is seeing the people coming in and developing their talent.

"There should be opportunities for people who want to do art.

"Everyone has the same opportunity through In Public. It is affordable to all, it's accessible.

"It feels welcoming and it's inviting to everybody.

"It gives everybody who wants it, the opportunity at an affordable price.

"If you want one-to-one tuition at school it will cost you £25 an hour.

"If I can offer that for £10 a day in a group dynamic, then I'll be happy."

The studio will host painting classes based around the Orion slave girls from Star Trek from today.

n In Public is now open on 21 Stockwell Street from 10-5 between Tuesday and Saturday.

Classes start at £5 for students and £10 for adults.


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