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Feature: David Healy / Infected by Design

Baseline - Infected by Design. Catch 22 paintings at rear of studio.

Walking into Baseline‘s workshop/gallery takes me back to my old art school days. The newly renovated space smells of wood, paint and plaster. Music blares from a spray spattered system, art work fills the walls and there is an air of happy creativity.  I immediately feel at home. David Healy (aka Infected by Design), mid-drawing, greets me and talks me through the artists, their work and how he became involved.

David says he has drawn since he could first hold a pencil, using the cardboard from shirt packs when he ran out of paper, and completed his first community project at the age of eight.  Throughout school, David loved art and design lessons, obtaining an A in GCSE Art. He went on to study illustration at university, but dropped out after three months, disappointed that it wasn’t the course for him.

There followed a period of indecision and uncertainty before David decided he needed some sort of more formal art education, and enrolled at Blackpool and Fylde College, emerging two years later with a GNVQ level 3 Advanced Art and Design.  Spurred on by his success, he then went on to achieve a degree in Graphic Design.

David continued to pursue his own highly individual work, drawing and painting on surfboards and skateboards and any other surfaces he could get his hands on.  At about this time he bumped into Daniel Astbury, an old friend since teaching him to skateboard when he was twelve. Daniel had originally started up Baseline and asked David to join him. Will Bentham (aka Lowdown) and Marc Atherton (Catch 22) were already working there when David started.  Ben Garcia-Vico (He Dreamt Mars), Ed Hesketh (Livin’ Loose) and Will Craig (Blazed 4 Dayz) now also paint and design within its walls.

David told me how all the artists at Baseline like to get involved in local and community projects.  They have all taken part in Sand, Sea and Spray for the last three years, and are hoping the 2014 event will be the biggest yet, as Bristol Upfest, traditionally a hugely popular gathering, is not taking place this year.

They also hold workshops for young offenders every Tuesday evening, where they hope to inspire some of the young people with their art, giving them the opportunity to produce their own work with advice and support from the artists. David tells me of the relationships they manage to build with some of the offenders, and how there are advantages to both sides in spending their time in this way.

Bloc Roc is another initiative David and the other artists are involved with.  They run short workshops within local high schools, demonstrating live art, graffiti, music (learning to DJ), street dance and indo boarding. The pupils are encouraged to become involved and the artists hope the activities will prove exciting and interesting enough to be pursued.

I leave Baseline with a good feeling. There is an energy about the place, both in the work and emanating from the artists, whose philosophy seems to be not only to spread the word about art in Blackpool, but to actively demonstrate and encourage others to become involved.

“Blackpool is up and coming in the art world,” says David with a grin as I get up to leave, “just watch this space.”

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