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Blackpool Royal Navy veteran curates his first community-based arts exhibition

A Royal Navy veteran and Blackpool resident has brought his art into the light, curating his own art exhibition at his local Bostonway community centre. Jack Crayton (59) showcased an eclectic mix of paintings he’s created during his time as a Blackpool School of Arts student studying Level 6 Fine Art, celebrating his hard work with the people he is closest to. He freely gave away his paintings to those who visited – enabling his neighbours to have a splash of colour on their walls. Community arts organisation, LeftCoast, helped organise the event as part of its artist residency programme, to which neighbours, tutors, family and friends were invited.

Jack said:

Art’s complete escapism for me, it’s a form of meditation. It’s my therapy, it’s my cure. I didn’t want to sell the work from this exhibition. I am not driven by money I prefer to see the pleasure it gives me and other people when I give pieces away. I can’t believe [the exhibition], because it’s about me! There’s definitely a buzz about it around here and at the university as well. I’ve been asked quite a few times around here, ‘are you an artist?’ I keep telling them, ‘I’m not an artist, I’m just a bloke who paints’ – I don’t have that title, I don’t want that title, but yeah, it’s definitely created a bit of buzz.

Jack has also been collaborating with LeftCoast artist in residence, Frances Disley, seeing the pair create a 3D collaboration of paints, plants, knots, and weaving.

He added:

The opportunity LeftCoast has given me has been wonderful. I’m very, very lucky, not many people get these sort of opportunities. So I’m grabbing onto it with both hands of course I am, and hope to be working alongside LeftCoast, if I can, in the future.

Tina Redford, Artistic Director at LeftCoast, said:

We were delighted when we met Jack and discovered his talent. He’s an excellent example of the creative skill within our Blackpool communities and how art can help people find ways of coping with life’s difficulties.

Jack started to paint just seven years ago to help with his mental health, and has painted each day since, calling it his “obsession”. His work focuses on exploring his creative act as a voice for the poor and the overlooked – which was recognised by the Blackpool & Fylde college this month, as he received its Mary Elizabeth Barrow Award for distance travelled.

Following his graduation, Jack aims to enter a post graduate teaching programme and to work as a freelance community based artist and curator for veterans of conflict.

His tutor, Tracey Eastham, Senior Tutor Scholarship and Researcher at Blackpool School of Arts, said:

This exhibition is the culmination of several years of creative development for Jack, and based on his current research activities, is surely to be the first of many. We are very proud to have seen his progress throughout his time with us at Blackpool School of Arts.

You can find out more about Jack’s work on his website.

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  • I have worked in the housing and transport professions for several local authorities, specialising in policy, strategy preparation and bid writing. Having always had an interest in film, the visual arts in general, theatre, music and lterature, I thought it would be good to combine the writing experience with these interests to contribute to altBlackpool. In addition to writing, my hobbies include watercolour and pastel painting, photography, woodwork, cycling and vegetable gardening.

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