Colchester charity gives hope to formerly homeless artist

Artwork by Neil Davey

Artwork by Neil Davey - Credit: Archant

Charity Emmaus Colchester to host art show celebrating the work of formerly homeless artist Neil Davey

From December 3 to 14, homeless charity Emmaus Colchester will be transforming one of its high street shops into an art gallery, showcasing the work of one of their companions – Neil Davey.

Emmaus Colchester has been helping Neil to get back on his feet following a period of homelessness. After developing a condition that caused both of his hands to close in on themselves, Neil struggled to continue working as a carpenter, eventually finding himself without a place to live. The budding artist was referred to Emmaus by Colchester Borough Council after sleeping on the beach at Mersea Island, and has since turned his life around. As an Emmaus Companion, Neil has been given a home, meaningful work and a chance to develop his artistic passions in his free time.

Speaking about the upcoming exhibition, Neil said: “I’ve painted since I was a child but went to art school in 1977. I love walking and being in nature which is my main inspiration. Some paintings can take years to complete, however, the ones I am most proud of took only a few days or hours…it just all comes together and comes to life.

Painting helps me to feel complete. It is something I do first thing in the morning and could not imagine my life without it. I hope that people who will attend my exhibition will take away the story of the walk that we all take – with ups and downs, in rain and in sunshine, in stormy weather or in a day filled with light. Every painting is a story. My story.”


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Neil will be donating half of the money raised from the sale of his paintings back to Emmaus Colchester, with the other half going towards the artist’s own move on fund. His stunning collection of paintings will be available for purchase for the entire week starting on December 3 at the Emmaus Home Shop, located on Colchester High Street.

Gintare Petrauskaite, community manager at Emmaus Colchester, said that the Emmaus team is very much looking forward to the exhibition. “We are feeling extremely privileged to support Neil in this venture. Neil is an extremely talented artist who told his story on canvas and I hope that people will come and join him on this journey.

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As a community, we are all about empowering people to fulfil their potential and hopefully, Neil’s journey will inspire others not to give up and stay true to their dreams.”

Emmaus Colchester currently supports up to 35 formerly homeless people at a time, giving them a stable home, food, and meaningful work in a social enterprise, for as long as their companions need it. The Emmaus community creates a warm and welcoming environment for companions, helping them to rebuild their self-esteem and move on successfully with their lives.

Founded in 1999, Emmaus Colchester has grown to encompass four shops and a warehouse, in addition to move-on accommodation for companions who feel ready to begin living independently again. Emmaus Colchester is one of 29 Emmaus communities across the country, supporting more than 750 formerly homeless people between them. The organisation aims to help vulnerable people overcome homelessness by offering more than just a roof over their heads, instilling them with confidence and new skills so that they may begin to rebuild their lives. Emmaus hopes to offer 1,000 companion places by 2020, expanding its presence throughout the UK and reaching more people in their time of need.

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