During his years of living on the street, George Westren visited many art galleries – to sleep.
It was there that he first developed an interest in art and was inspired by the work of the abstract painter Bridget Riley.
Three years ago, George became a member of Thames Reach’s art project, Vision Impossible, which he now feels is his spiritual home.
He draws meticulous pen and ink mandalas, which create shifting planes like optical illusions.
George recently exhibited his work at Patisserie Valerie in the City.
“I was on the streets and in hostels on and off for 15 years. After rehab I got my own flat and also started drawing. At first I wanted to leave the flat all the time, but art has changed my life and is really important to me.
“I have had trouble with drugs and alcohol in the past and my nerves are still bad, but I can relax here and the staff make me feel welcome. Without the project I would be wasting time.
“I have been to other art projects, but Vision Impossible is different as it is dedicated to art and nothing else. There is nothing else like this in London.
“It gives you space and time to develop your work. Help is there if you want it but you can also get on with it. By coming here I am part of a group that is going places and the work is taken seriously.
“I have been coming to the project for the last three months and have already been exhibited in a gallery and my work is now on a website. Through the project my public profile as an artist is growing.
“In the future I would like to be able to talk more confidently about my work, but each time I sell a piece my confidence grows.
“I used to go to art galleries to sleep; now I go to exhibit.”