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Artist bounces back from breakdown

Artist Ian Johns
Artist Ian Johns

It all began in a dilapidated camper van somewhere in the Australian outback.

Now artist Ian Johns’ work can be seen in the slightly more civilised surrounds of the Hazlitt Arts Centre’s exclusive Graham Clarke Gallery.

A collection of the Tovil artist’s unique and spiritually inspired works - entitled Through My Eyes and produced exclusively with gel pens - is set to be displayed at the gallery in Earl Street, Maidstone, from Sunday, October 5 to Saturday November 1.

It represents a huge milestone for the former hotel worker, who suffered a mental breakdown at the end of 2006 and puts much of his current success down to the help of the Blackthorn Trust, which helps people in need of medical care and rehabilitation.

“I was close to a complete breakdown” recalls Mr Johns, of King Edward Road, Tovil. “My partner left and I went down like a ton of the proverbial.

“I was in a shocking state.

“They’ve helped bring me back; I don’t think I would have been here without them.”

While Mr Johns has never studied art professionally, he believes his travels through most of the world’s continents have helped influence his unique swirling style.“I’ve never gone around looking at art but you can see aboriginal art in there. It’s old and indigenous.

“People have sat down to meditate with them; it alleviates stress.

“People say they see a lot of movement in it.”

But if Mr Johns is proud of his work, you couldn’t accuse him of artistic arrogance or pretentiousness.

“I say look at that; it looks like it’s been done by a psychopathic nincompoop” he said. “My doctor says ‘all I can see is peace’.

“I’m lacking confidence. I’d love someone to take it on. I’d love it to go to London.”

Contact the Hazlitt Arts Centre on 01622 758611 for information on the exhibition and other events.

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