Pictured, from left: William Denison, Roger Llewellyn-Watts and George Westren
William’s portrait of Amy Winehouse
Published: 6 July, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
PAINTINGS by former homeless people – including a colourful portrait of late singer Amy Winehouse – were on display at an exhibition at Union Chapel in Highbury last weekend.
The artists belong to Margins Homeless Project based at the chapel, which provides a range of vital support services to people facing homelessness, crisis and isolation in the community.
The Winehouse picture has been painted by former homeless labourer William Denison, 61, a regular member of the group.
A big fan of Ms Winehouse, Mr Denison is already well known for his painting of Tom Jones following a sell-out concert by the singer at the chapel five years ago.
Mr Jones personally signed the painting, which was later auctioned for charity.
Mr Denisen said: “Painting has given me an outlet and a direction, and art is like a therapy. I’ve had a number of exhibitions over the years which has been very satisfying.”
Roger Llewellyn-Watts, 59, a former merchant seaman, has been a volunteer at the group for 11 years.
“I enjoy drawing and painting ships. It helps me get through some of the bad experiences in my life.
“For example, it helped me get over the loss of my partner who died recently.”
George Westren, 65, who creates abstract paintings and patterns, said he would be at a loss without his work.
“I only discovered art about 10 years ago and I love it. Before that I really had no direction in life.”
A new kitchen will also be unveiled at the Project, paid for by the National Lottery, the Beatrice Laing Trust and Quaker Homeless Action.
It will mean that the charity can continue to provide hot meals for homeless people.
The Margins Project has operated from the Union Chapel since 1991 and includes a Sunday drop-in service, where up to 180 guests receive a hot, nutritious two-course meal.
While they are there, visitors have access to an advice worker to help them find accommodation and employment, or refer them to specialist health, or drug and alcohol services.
Shower and laundry services are also freely available.
To make a donation to Margins go to www.justgiving.org/margins-project