Horse brass art showcases Centre 81’s work

The drama brass makes smart head gear

The drama brass makes smart head gear - Credit: Archant

A set of shiny horse brasses is helping harness higher awareness of a charity’s life-enhancing work with its members.

They were designed by keen amateur artist Richard Jex, who has been a member at Great Yarmouth’s Centre 81 for eight years since he suffered a stroke.

He is part of the Centre’s art group at the Skills and Activities Centre where creating pictures helped rebuild his skills and confidence.

Richard’s trio of brasses show a C81 emblem, two theatrical masks to highlight the Centre’s drama work and a wheelchair with the word ability, to accentuate the charity’s positive ethos of looking at “ability not disability.”

They were seen by crowds watching a spectacular procession of horses in Norwich at the weekend to mark the arrival of a major art event in the city.

British Art Show 8 will feature more than 100 artworks at four venues and was launched with the horse History Train with eight heavy horses hauling carts to evoke parades held in the city between 1908 and 1914.

The horses were adorned with 26 traditional style horse brasses – all newly designed by members of the public, including Mr Jex, and crafted by artist Alan Kane.

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The brasses, including Richard’s are on show at the Norwich Castle Museum’s Fitch Room.

Former hospital cleaner Richard, 61 from Southtown, was left with balance and mood swing problems after his stroke and also suffers from epilepsy.

He used to sit and did not want to do anything when he was first taken ill. But since joining Centre 81, where he attends five days a week, he has enjoyed the activities including the art.

“I started doing paint by numbers when I first came. But the staff helped me do my own pictures,” said Richard, whose colourful images ranging from landscapes and wildlife to celebrities including Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.

Centre 81 skills and activities manager Julie Charles said: “The activities we run here really help our members gain confidence as well as skills.

“Richard has made really good progress and we area so proud his work has featured in a major event, and will be on show to the public in a top attraction.

“And we are thrilled the brasses promote Centre 81, it’s work and upbeat message.”

The art success comes as Centre 81 launches a £5m appeal to rebuild its Tar Works Complex – currently a range of ageing second-hand buildings – into a modern, state-of-the-art base, enabling it to improve and expand its services.

It currently has 70 members of its skills and activities centre, and runs a community bus service used by 700 people – but sees the potential to help many more people.

The aim is to gain much of the funding through regional and national grants, but community fundraising – helped by heightened awareness of the Centre’s work - is also important.