Ashes to Embers

A local artist who suffered a tragic loss when his partner died earlier this year is turning his life around, showcasing his unique work through the community art network in St Leonards and supporting a national children's charity.

Chris Dredge first studied Art and Design at secondary school, completing a foundation GNVQ while in sixth form. He continued his studies at the Kent Institute of Art and Design (K.I.A.D) in Maidstone completing a two year National Diploma in Multimedia, which he says gave him skills in web design, animation, and video making.

“Once I completed the National Diploma I went on to graduate with a degree in Video Media Arts, again at K.I.A.D,” he said.

“I intended to work within the independent film industry, but when this proved fruitless I turned my creative energies to music and while balancing everyday life I formed the Heavy Metal/Punk band Spawn of Psychosis, which I am still apart of to this day.”

Then, on April 5, 2016 tragedy struck when Chris’s partner of five years, Katie Whistler suddenly died. She was just 26 years old.

“Katie collapsed in front of me at our flat in Maidstone and died,” he said.

“This shocked me to the core and I knew I needed to make a complete change in my life as staying within the same routines was making my pre existing mental health problems worse.”

After visiting friends in Donegal, Ireland Chris, 32, says he was committed to the idea of returning to his creative roots in traditional art mediums.

“I have had experience with traditional and none traditional art mediums so I can turn my hand to a wide variety of methods when creating my art.

“My art is a visual representation of how I see the world around me, my thought processes in dealing with the tragic events of my life as well as depicting the quirky and fantastical elements of my imagination.

“I see art and creativity as a way to express emotions and feeling with a gravity that words can’t always convey.”

Currently working with acrylic and acrylic effect paints, he is also working on writing and illustrating a children’s book ‘The Adventures of Sloth Reaper and Ehren’.

Chris, whose Mum died when he was seven years old, says he hopes this book will go some way to helping children who are also suffering such a huge loss. “My experience of loosing my Mum at such a young age is the inspiration for what is happening in the first book. Her death was something that influenced a lot of my work throughout college and beyond.

“Katie’s death obviously, was a harsh reminder of history repeating itself.

“This book is aimed at helping both children and their guardians deal with bereavement, a topic close to my heart.”

Chris started Ashes to Embers Studio as a means to showcase and sell his work. Shortly after setting up the studio he relocated to Hastings and has become steadily and increasingly involved with the Art community of Hastings and St Leonards, most notably becoming part of Zoom Arts, St Leonards Warrior Square Train Station,.

Since his relocation Chris has also become involved with The Philippines Street People Appeal Fund, a charity completely funded by its volunteers who help homeless children in the Philippines. He said: “Through a mutual friend I networked with one of the charities volunteers and offered to create a piece of work which they could raffle off to raise money for the charity. I created a special set of three portraits based on photographs from the charity itself.”

The raffle, held at a charity event at Blackstock Farm last Saturday raised a total of £156 which Chris says will help to house an entire family in the Philippines.

Chris’s next exhibition will be at The Best Bar None, 91-92 Queens Road, Hastings in March 2017.

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