William (Bill) Smith

My Art


My interest in art first started when I lived at the Banardos home in Harrogate.  I suffer from Cerebral Palsey so my main activity there was learning to walk.  This meant that I could not learn to read and write.  However, in any spare time I would draw with pencils using very simple subjects.


In my teenage years I went to live at the Princess Marina Centre in Buckinghamshire.  My life there was a stepping stone to be prepared to live independently.  I was given a full education and taught to read and write.  I also had several jobs in the local villages outside of the centre.  I was always busy and didn’t really have time to develop my interest in art.


When I moved to Beanhill in Milton Keynes to live independently, I had a blind social worker called John Richards.  He talked to me about having interests outside of home so I had something to do.  He suggested that I should attend art classes at the workshop at Coffee Hall.  It took me a little time to decide to go but eventually I went in the early 1990s.  Elaine who ran the classes motivated me to attend every week and work hard to learn to draw and paint.


I saw a newspaper cutting with pictures of famous buildings throughout the world such as Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, St Pauls Cathedral etc. which caught my imagination.  I learned to draw people in the style of Lowry.  I combined the shapes of the well known buildings with other town centres and included people going about their business.  This has become my style over many years.  Because I have a strong interest in cricket, friends have expected me to draw cricket scenes.  However, these would involve mostly people and I have developed my skill drawing buildings.


I use felt pens to create colour and have to concentrate very hard to control my hand to draw everything free-hand.  I do not use a ruler to draw the straight lines.  Just as people learn to paint with their feet or their mouth to overcome a disability, so I developed a technique to hold my hand still so I can also paint.


My paintings have become well known locally and I have had an exhibition at Great Linford Arts Centre which was also featured on local television.  I have some paintings on display in Milton Keynes General Hospital who have asked for more.  Several paintings have also been sent to Canada and Australia.  People have respected me because of what I have done.


Art has become an important part of my life.  It enables me to still get out of my home as I still attend the Scope workshop in Neath Hill each week to work at my painting for several hours at a time.  I believe it is important to have specific interests rather than sit around all day.  I have been disappointed that my art has not been encouraged at the Village where I live.


Art should brighten peoples’ lives, both for those who paint and those who enjoy the finished work.  I hope that my paintings will brighten the lives of many people and encourage those who think they cannot do anything to try to develop something to do for themselves.