If you’re not into God and ‘stuff like that’ then what you are about to read might come across as a bit strange but it’s just how things happened and how I ended up with AnthonyHodgsonArt. So, if that interests you, read on.
Back in 2012 I was a teacher at King’s School of English, in Beckenham, south of London, England. I’d been there for five years, teaching English to students from all over the world. It was a job I liked a lot, meeting people from different cultures and helping them to improve in a language that they needed for work or, in the case of the Japanese grandmother, simply wanted to learn for fun.
However, I always knew, from the beginning, that being an English teacher wasn’t what I wanted to do forever: it was never a career choice; just a job that I could do well and that paid the bills.
Way before 2012, I’d been expressing frustration and dissatisfaction with my life to God in my prayer journal. I was never interested in a ‘normal’ life. Society, as I saw it, was in a mess and I wanted to be doing something to make it better. I already was, in a way: I’d worked with the disabled, alcoholics, ex-
So it was that in 2012 I fell ill. At the time we didn’t know what was wrong with me but I was eventually diagnosed, three years later, with CFS/ME. The symptoms for me were a lack of energy, exhaustion, aching limbs, an inability to focus or concentrate, forgetfulness and chaotic sleep patterns. What it meant practically was that, more and more, I was unable to work, and spent an increasing amount of time at home. I went through various stages -
It gradually became clearer to me that God wanted me to use the gifts that he’d given me for Him: art, music, poetry, to be a channel for His love to this broken world. Although that might sound a bit pompous or ‘off-
How did it become clear? Several ways.
I was reading the book of Matthew one day and the following really lines jumped out at me:
‘For it will be like a man about to leave his home for a while, who entrusted his possessions to his servants. To one he gave five talents (equivalent to a hundred year’s wages); to another two talents; and to another, one talent -
After a long time, the master of those servants returned to settle accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the other five and said, ‘Sir, you gave me five talents; here, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Excellent! You are a good and trustworthy servant. You have been faithful in a small amount so I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and join in your master’s happiness!’
Also the one who had received two came forward and said, ‘Sir, you gave me two talents; here, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Excellent! You are a good and trustworthy servant. You have been faithful in a small amount so I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and join in your master’s happiness!’
Now the one who had received one talent came forward and said, ‘I knew you were a hard man. You harvest where you didn’t plant and you gather where you didn’t sow seed. I was afraid so I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here! Take what belongs to you!’
‘You wicked, lazy servant!’ said his master, ‘So you knew, did you, that I harvest where I haven’t planted and I gather where I didn’t sow seed? Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, so that when I returned, I would at least have got back interest with my capital! Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. For everyone who has something will be given more, so that he will have more than enough; but from anyone who has nothing , even what he does have will be taken away. As for this worthless servant, throw him out into the dark, where people will wail and grind their teeth!’
Around this time I was also reading a book sent to me by my Mam. It was called ‘If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat’.
When I was still teaching at Kings, Max, a colleague of mine lost his Mum. While they were clearing out her attic, he found some paintings. Beautiful paintings. But no one had ever seen them. The idea of an talented artist hiding all of her paintings in the attic was tragic. Yet I was doing the same thing: God had given me talents to use.
So one day, I took out my artwork, poetry and songs, all hidden away in cupboards, laid it on the table and said to God, ‘Here you are; use it and me however you want,’ or something along those lines.
And so it began. It was terrifying. But slowly I began to share with friends, get my ‘doodles’ printed and framed, organise and type up my poetry. Approach shops and visit art galleries. Attend a poetry evening launch at the local Dulwich Bookshop. I started life drawing classes at the local Portico Gallery, did a business course, started meeting up with a mentor. And then I started hiring a pitch at a local Art fair selling my cards and prints. So much to learn. Not just sources, paper size etc but personally: being frustrated and disheartened when no one bought anything. But slowly I grew in confidence, experience and knowledge. And my artwork started getting bigger.
Four years later, (Sept 2016) I’ve sold hundreds of cards, framed prints and limited editions as well as running outreach events using my art. I’ve just published an anthology of my poetry, will be doing a poetry evening in October, am about to take part in two exhibitions in London and have begun recording again. I’ve used my songs, my art and photography, my poetry to encourage, to challenge and inspire people at art evenings and meetings as well as via social media -
AnthonyHodgsonArt: How it Began
If you’d like to read a bit about where I come from…