Over the last six years, Create’s visual artist Daniel Lehan has inspired creativity in many different communities.
Born in Nigeria, Daniel left the country when he was four to move to Margate in Kent with his parents. He discovered that he wanted to be an artist at the tender age of 12, after watching a teenager paint pictures of birds on the TV programme Animal Magic.
“I thought ‘wow’. So when the programme finished, I immediately rushed to a local shop and bought paints. And that was it, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Daniel went on to do a BA in Fine Art Painting at Winchester School of Art, and later a course in Art Therapy at Goldsmiths College. His career since has involved a myriad of different professions including leading creative workshops, writing and illustrating children’s books, a stint as a house manager and teaching young people with disabilities at a further education college. Daniel now works full time as a professional artist, combining the production of his own artwork with projects for Create and London-based museums and art galleries. During the past year, he has been involved in three Create projects: ArtsAdventures (young patients); art:links (older people); and Inside Stories (young offenders). Despite having studied Fine Art Painting, Daniel’s primary focus is not on correct techniques or accurate perspective. For him, as for Create, it is about drawing out the participants’ creativity, allowing them to express themselves in new ways, form new relationships and grow in confidence. Daniel says that working with Create has changed his perception of the world, especially after leading the art workshops for Inside Stories. During these, male prison inmates aged 18-21 wrote and illustrated stories for their children:
“Doing these projects changes how you see things – you realise that you go into them with certain preconceptions and come out realising that the participants are as capable of creativity and emotion as you and me.”
He believes that it is Create’s sensitive approach to the participants that makes the charity’s projects such a success: