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Big jeff welcome to my world art video

Bristol live music legend Big Jeff launches first artwork exhibition

03 February 2021, 13:16 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

Big Jeff, one of Bristol's most enthusiastic gig-goers, has launched his first artwork exhibition called Welcome To My World.

Big Jeff, who was usually spotted at numerous Bristol gigs each week before the coronavirus pandemic, has now launched his first exhibition Welcome To My World, which features 34 paintings created by Jeff Johns, aka Big Jeff. The paintings were created over the space of two years, and the exhibition is "intended to instigate conversations" around anxiety and mental health.

Big Jeff discovered his painting skills when his grandmother - a "prolific tapestry artist" - gave him some paint, and Johns began painting as a way "of dealing with lots of difficult emotions and my struggle to deal with the world around me".

Johns writes on his website, "I use drawing and painting as a form of self-reflection. A lot of my work echoes my struggles around feeling like I don’t fit into this world. Art for me has been about expressing emotions I can’t explain another way. These paintings highlight my issues with hidden anxiety and mental health and the barrier these create. How people see me is one thing - but internally I sometimes feel completely different. I use art as a way of expressing things that aren’t always easy to discuss. My first painting was of a music artist called Raggs. The painting came together around a blurry photo I had taken at a gig. I began to paint an imaginary world around her image."

14 of Big Jeff's paintings have been hung in the Bristol Beacon, and will be showcased alongside artworks created by musicians in the Super Cool Drawing Machine exhibition in May.

Exhibition curator Lee Dodds says, "We have been working with Jeff for a couple of years now, after discovering his brilliant talent after he posted a photo of “Raggs” on Facebook. We spoke to Jeff about buying the painting and asked him he has painted anything else. Jeff wasn’t sure if we were serious and that’s when a conversation began about sharing his work with the world! His paintings are uplifting and will definitely be popular with music fans and art collectors in Bristol and beyond. It’s also important to Jeff to use this moment to highlight and invite conversation about mental health issues and anxiety, and encourage others to use creative outlets to enable them to express their feelings."

The Artistic Director at Bristol Beacon, Todd Wills adds, "We’re extremely proud to be able to work with Jeff to exhibit his art for the first time, both online and in situ at Bristol Beacon. Whilst many of us feel we know Jeff after seeing him at countless shows over the years this feels like an opportunity to get to understand another side of him through his art and what’s being expressed within it. Personally, I was blown away by the work he’s produced and I’ve no doubt others will feel the same."

Watch a video of Big Jeff discussing his influences and the stories behind some of his artwork in the exhibition below.

Visit to see and buy copies of Big Jeff's art.
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