Art from the streets of Bristol

Back in the 1980s Andrew Broomfield played bass guitar in a band called Secret Rhino. The group stayed together for a year playing pubs and small clubs in Bristol before ‘egos clashed’ and they split up.

Andrew says he loved playing in a band and still plays bass along to favourite tunes. He says he’s not genre orientated about music. If he likes a song and thinks it’s good, then he plays it, mostly in his room at Second Step’s supported housing project in Bedminster, Toll House Court, to the amusement of the staff team whose office is directly below.

Andrew, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1998, also deals with some chronic physical problems and infections in his legs which severely restrict his mobility. “Sometimes I can’t walk at all because of the combination of the swelling and the infection,” he explains.

Andrew came to Toll House in January following a nine month stay in a secure psychiatric unit, after committing an offence. He’s found solace through his music and also has rediscovered his love and aptitude for drawing. He attended an art group regularly and pulled together some past and present work for a recent exhibition by homeless people in Bristol.

He describes music as transcendental. It relaxes him immediately. “Art is more difficult. It takes time to achieve what you want with it. I’ve always drawn since I was a child. When the chance came to put some pieces into the exhibition I chose two that I had done ages ago and one which I did more recently.”

He’s delighted that one of the visitors to the Leaving the Streets Behind exhibition, is now interested in buying two of his paintings. “I’m glad he wants them. I hope he treasures them,” Andrew says. The prospective buyer, a visitor to Bristol from the Netherlands Erik, said: “These two beautiful works connected with me instantly when I saw them and really left a lasting impression.”

Andrew is due to exhibit his work next week at Bristol’s Callington Road Hospital as part of their celebrations for World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

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