Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Wooden Art; SCULPTING HELPS MAN MOVE ON FROM DRUG ADDICTION

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Wooden Art; SCULPTING HELPS MAN MOVE ON FROM DRUG ADDICTION

Article excerpt

Byline: By LISA HUTCHINSON

HE WAS a drug addict on the verge of killing himself with crack cocaine.

But Graham Bellis has turned his life around and is making art his success.

His life as a tattoo artist in Florida meant his partying never stopped.

But a good look in the mirror one morning caused him to jump on a flight back home and book himself into rehab in a battle to stay clean from drugs.

He has spent the past nine years putting his moods and feeling to better use and is proving to be an expert in wood carving.

Now suffering from depression, he spends his days alone in his flat, where he concentrates on his creations.

And his work is so beautiful and detailed that it is hard to imagine he achieves his masterpiece from MDF and a pounds 6 hobby craft tool kit.

Claiming disability allowance means Graham cannot afford to buy the oaks and the elms he would love and pounds 10 buys him an 8ft sheet of MDF, which is made from compressed sawdust.

He has made a 10ft Japanese dragon, figures of Jesus, a Buddha, a huge tribal mask and a devil and an angel joined at the hip, as well as other creations.

And now he is working towards an exhibition where his work can go on display for the first time.

From his flat in Longbenton, North Tyneside, Graham, said: "MDF and wood are my best friends. When I get depressed I just pick up my tools and start working with wood. I get excited and an electricity runs through my arms. People say I'm crazy. If this is madness then bring it on. I love it."

Graham, 43, has had no official training in woodcarving. He was considered an artist when he did his tattoos but woodcraft is where his heart lies. When I was in America the party life just never stopped and I got into all sorts of drugs and ended up on crack cocaine.

"The drugs were killing me and I had to get off it. …

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