Joel Howie, artist and winner of one of six Award Winners for Outside In 2007, talks about his life, residency and opportunity to exhibit at the Gallery.

Since my stroke at 14 the early part of my life was an ongoing battle with the education system to allow me to do what I want to do, paint and be taken seriously as an artist. This eventually led to me taking a BA in Fine Art at Portsmouth University as a disabled student. My struggle to gain access and understanding from the education system were significant and helped pave the way for others in my situation. Of the many achievements in my life, I see learning to use my left hand as one of the most important. I have always striven to prove myself as an artist, first and foremost.

I have had a studio at Art Space in Portsmouth for the past seven years. I work mainly in oils, but also use watercolour, charcoal and pencil. My large scale works are all in oil on canvas and focus on the human figure, either in movement or within an environment. They combine both the figurative and abstract and an expressive use of paint and colour. My previous work has included several series of studies of dancers, boxers and people involved in their daily lives and occupations. I have also painted pictures of people with disabilities and this work reflects my personal experience of having been in a centre for people with disabilities for some years and my own personal experience of being disabled.

I am a member of the Partners in Art scheme run at Pallant House Gallery and with my partner I have been visiting dance studios and developing a series of paintings that I hope to exhibit in the near future. I rely on support to carry on with my work and to prevent me from becoming isolated.

During my residency at Pallant House Gallery I have developed a body of work inspired by the interior spaces of the Gallery, the people within them and the light and space in the building and rooms, there are also images of Chichester, the City and Cathedral. My paintings are derived from photographs and often capture people in repose or reflection.

I would like to thank Frances Peppercorn for her help with writing this article and supporting me in my exhibition at Pallant House Gallery and also my mother.

Image: Joel Howie