Mayor of Chichester helps homeless with art exhibition at the Oxmarket

Mayor of Chichester Martyn Bell has brought together an art exhibition in support of the charities he has adopted for his year of office.

Martyn Bell
Martyn Bell

The exhibition, which will run at Chichester’s Oxmarket from October 16-28, will raise funds for the Oxmarket itself, of which Martyn is also chairman, and for the homelessness charity Stonepillow, of which Martyn has been a trustee for many years.

“This kind of mayor’s exhibition hasn’t been done before,” Martyn said, “but the aim is to raise money for the charities and also to raise awareness of the artistic talents that we have got in Chichester, particularly with Stonepillow’s clients.

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“The idea is that Stonepillow’s clients tend to be people on a journey back to normal life. Stonepillow has got premises in place to help people to get back to normal life and that includes moving through a series of hostels that we have got in Chichester and Bognor Regis over a 12-month period.

"If they have substance abuse issues, the idea is to get them off that, and there is a lot of Stonepillow activity that a lot of people are not necessarily aware of. Stonepillow not only provides shelter; it also provides rehabilitation, and we have got about an 80 per cent success rate of getting people back to a normal life, in a flat of their own and having a job.

” On that journey, art can prove a valuable therapy: “If people have got mental-health problems, art can really work in terms of calming people down and getting people interested. And some of the art they produce is absolutely brilliant. I saw some at the day centre. I was so impressed and said ‘If we have an art exhibition, can we show some of the clients’ work?’

“And that is what we are doing. But in addition to that, we have got other artists showing as well. Pippa Blake has also agreed to take part. She has a new series called Flight Path. It is fabulous art. We are going to show some of the pieces that she did when she was artist in residence at the Minerva. We have also got Vincent Gray taking part.

“Some of the works exhibited, if sold, will be 100 per cent proceeds to the charities. There will also be some that are not for sale. Some will be on sale on normal gallery terms and some will be donated by the artists.”

Martyn is also expecting there to be a number of pieces on display from post-graduate students from the fine art department at the University of Chichester.

Founded in 1989 and now in its 29th year of operation, Stonepillow is a charity that provides a lifeline for homeless people with hubs, hostels and supported accommodation in Chichester, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.

In the past year, 208 people have accessed their services.