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         Whoever said setting up an online store is easy...ha..their noses must be really long, or creatives could maybe stick to creating. If ...If ??? you buy something I really hope you enjoy it and if you have a groan, can you do it patiently as it's me that will have to turn that back into a smile.

          At last I have Prints and T shirts for sale. It's what many Artists would like, an online gallery store. It's a great way to share and reproduce the authentic ideas and inspirations that result in art, so called 'Gay art' from my gay life.

        This year my self portrait is on show at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool from 29th April '22 until January '23 as part of the Refractive Pool Exhibition.

        I have had works exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, the Whitworth Gallery, Liverpool Biennials, Brighton Museum, Berlin Kunstsalon etc and have exhibited alongside Bill Drummond, Gavin Turk, Chapman Brothers, Maggi Hambling, Warhol and others . John Moores painting prize at the Walker , prizewinner at the National Open exhibition and winner of Sussex Open and three times in the BP Portrait awards are among exhibitions Ive been a part of.

        I was born in Chester, moved to London in '78, then to Brighton in '90 and currently live in Liverpool , home of wit, cheek, reality and generosity .

        Education..brilliant art teacher, Mr Wray who I came out to when I was fourteen..but school for a gay kid fun at all, no role models, no films, no tv, no songs, no books, nothing, how do you tell anyone, how do you find someone to go out with, very depressing when I think about it. It was early 70's, gay people had only been legal for about 6 years and that sounds crazy. I didn't go much and escaped with one O'level in Art.

        Life began at college, Graphics and foundation, gay mates and going clubbing in Liverpool..ah home. At seventeen I met Philip and I was with him until he died in '89. We went to London for a week , paradise, huge clubs, Bangs.. excitement. Walking on Oxford St I noticed a shop opposite Selfridges main door being stocked and recognized a couple of people from the company I worked for in Chester. "You need staff ?"...and we went back to Chester and Liverpool to pack bags and to leave a note for my holidaying parents. Home Sunday back Monday. London , Kings road , Oxford St, then work in Kensington High St. Kensington Market '80, I had a stall at Camden market, later myself and friend Kevin had stalls at Kensington market, Carnaby St and Camden.

        Cha Cha's , a club every Tuesday in a separate venue inside Heaven, Princess Julia on decks from what I remember, maybe not, Leigh Bowery, Jimmy Somerville, Mark Moore, Body Map , Fat Tony, Scarlett..everything seemed to link, all nighters at the Scala cinema, Divine film all nighters, the Roxy and the Fridge in Brixton, Divine performing at Heaven, I've still got my signed shirt ,real treasure. When you're in the middle of a mad time you don't realize it, it's just where you go and who you see. Sigue SIgue Sputnik and people were always in Kensington market, we had a stall next to Skin 2, Blue Monday and Bela Lugosi's Dead etc were blasting out, '82/'83 . We saw George's first gig at Heaven and it was surprisingly good, it was ID mag launch time, the Mud club, Philip Salon and the Bell on Sundays, the Wag club and Camden Palace, Rusty Egan dj'ing.

        I began three days a week printmaking to get a folio of work for an interview for Middlesex uni. I was persuaded to go for a Graphics degree and began at Middlesex uni in '86. Philip was diagnosed with HIV in '85 and fun got progressively less.

        University kids were great and I still keep in touch with some lovely mates from that time. Philip was diagnosed with full blown Aids in'87 and our lives became a world of hospital appointments or stays, testing new drugs, trying anything. Eventually he got weaker and weaker and ended up in a wheelchair with me being full time carer, having taken my final year of uni off. If he got very sick some hospitals would'nt take him in because of his Aids status. The world was aginst us, it was devestating, friends stayed away, looking back I am amazed at what we went through. I was twenty four, and the diagnosis became a four year experience. I remember sitting with the doctor and Philip and hearing him say "You Have Two Years To Live". And that after bouts of illness from the HIV diagnosis two years previous.

        We did go to Australia in '87 as our last holiday, he just about managed that. He died in '89 . I took his ashes and left him on Ayers Rock, a place he would've liked to have gone to. I painted a representation of his death five years later.

        It was shown in the National Portrait Gallery and amazingly had to have it's own comments book set up at the front desk. I got a call from the gallery "Never before have we had that many people asking about a painting, we have now set up a comments book just for your painting". I was overwhelmed and I received comments from all over the world, just beautiful. I still get emotional thinking how such a major sad experience for me could be translated through my painting to touch so many , just great.

        Everyone loses people they love, it's universal, it's like love itself, we all get the many facets of that, the highs and the lows. I made a quilt panel for Philip and even went to Washington for the International Aids Quilt display with my mum and the Uk team in '92. To top that my quilt panel came up on CNN news , a big close up which then zoomed out to the hundreds of other sad memorials. I had just got in from the display and turned the tv on in the hotel room, amazing!

        I had a studio in Brighton and exhibited in some great exhibitions and received quite a lot of publicity , notably in the Independent, the Evening Standard, Observer, Gay times and others. I was invited to show in Liverpool's first Independent Biennial in '99 by the curator and friend Jonathan Swain. It was a brilliant time, art and crazy people everywhere, so much laughing. The contrast between Brighton and Liverpool was immense, prices in Brighton had chased lots of the 'characters' out , Liverpool appeared to be swamped with them, it was'nt a difficult decision to make. Liverpool here I come.

        Big thanks to Kevin Jenkins, a friend ,for working on getting the artwork 'print ready', also to David Walters at DW Photography, Liverpool, a friend who happens to be great at taking photos, which fortunately includes my artwork and my models. Thanks to Phil for typo's and a bit of code stuff, and for encouragement from Kitty and friends....nearly there Gary....nearly there...water..water....thanks x 

        Gary Sollars