Be inspired to paint, make and create with BAFTA award-winning Art Attack presenter Neil Buchanan. To launch his touring exhibition, Neil is packing up his easel and heading off to galleries across the UK and is calling in at Gallery Rouge in St Albans this Sunday. His collection, Hope Street, is a powerful and nostalgic set of prints about childhood.
Growing up in Liverpool in the 1960s, Neil fondly recalls playing football and drawing cartoons. Coincidentally his school was on Hope Street.
“The reason I called the series Hope Street is not because of a place but a state of mind,” says Neil. “Looking back on it, times were simpler then. I was from a normal working class environment where no one seemed to die or get divorced. People lived in Hope Street, now they live in a different type of street.”
In his teens, Neil’s hopes were dashed when the principal at Liverpool College of Art told him he must choose art or music. Having already created the band Marseille, he opted for the rock and roll route and went on to win the first ever Battle of the Bands on TV in 1977.
“Those were heady days. I wanted to go into art because it was what I could do but I also wanted to play in a band. Being told you could only be creative in one compartment was a ridiculous thing to say to a young person, so I walked away with my creativity unbridled.”
UK and European tours followed but the rock star dream was short-lived.
“We went from stretch limos and Lear jets to being back on the dole after a legal battle with the record company. It was a creative cold shower.”
Answering an ad for a job working as a children’s TV presenter soon got Neil’s creativity back on track. He began his career on zany Saturday morning show No:73 and went on to success with Motormouth, Finders Keepers, ZZZap! (a show he created for deaf children) and Animal Crazy. His greatest triumph came when he and Tim Edmunds, created a new kind of art programme, called Art Attack, in 1990.
“We did 500 shows with more than 2,000 ideas over 17 years. My favourite art store was my trash can. If you think outside the box you can come up with a lot of solutions but sometimes you only do so when you’re forced to through lack of finance, Art Attack was cheap as chips but it was also an innovative and inspirational show.
“Having done Art Attack for many years, I’ve realised the most important thing to do when working with children is to inspire them, because if you do, you empower them.”
Neil Buchanan is coming to Gallery Rouge, Chequer Street, St Albans on Sunday, December 4 from 2pm-4pm.
Details: 01727 860401, www.galleryrouge.co.uk