1. ITV Report

Joiner finds new life as an artist

Gary works in several different mediums. Photo: ITV News Tyne Tees
Gary Nicolson has a new life as an artist. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

One man's struggle over adversity has led to a new life as an artist.

Gary Nicholson, from Sunderland, worked as a joiner for thirty years, but following an operation to remove a tumour on his spine, he became paraplegic.

Now, he has transformed his life through art, and has opened his first exhibition.

Art has been Gary's therapy, it has transformed him, and his life. Eight years after an operation which left him disabled he's created stunning pieces in different mediums to form this exhibition - named Regeneration.

I've taken lots of inspiration from myself in trying to envisage how you can put a positive spin on your spinal chord injury and making more of it. I wanted to embrace it so I've created art work based around myself and my injury and hopefully inspire other people.

– Gary Nicolson

When Gary found himself disabled and unable to continue as a joiner, he began contemplating what to do with his life. He started art therapy classes which led to him studying at Sunderland University and creating this exhibition as part of a Masters degree.

The starting point of the exhibition was an MRI scan of Gary's spine following his operation.

It was a perfect place to start and I used that as inspiration and did these various ink painting form that just using different mediums and experimenting over the top.

– Gary Nicolson

The paintings then follow Gary's physical and mental journey from a very dark time into light and positivity.

I've accepted it finally I suppose and for myself and made more of it rather than it controlling me I've got control of it."

– Gary Nicolson

Gary now hopes to create a new business in art therapy so he can help and inspire others.