Verity Elsbury, a former SGS student has been commended on her artwork winning the prestigious Derek Balmer award at the Royal West of England Academy
This is a tremendous achievement for the 30 year old who has battled mental illness and addiction for many years.
Verity, also known as Tat Elsbury, comments
“I only started pushing my artwork out into the world at the start of this year as after university I spent 4 years struggling with mental health issues and substance addiction. After my second stint in rehab my creativity started to come back and after two years I went into tattooing.
“On the first day of my apprenticeship in tattooing my boss asked me to do some drawings to see how well I understood tonal values. I had no idea if I would be good at drawing but I put my all into it and the results were reasonably impressive. I spent a few years concentrating on tattooing but drawing on the side for pocket money doing pet portraits.
“My technical ability and knowledge of the process of hyperrealism grew a lot faster than my technical ability in the tattoo realm. In September 2018 I made the terrifying choice to give up my apprenticeship to focus on my art.
“I currently focus on projects close to my heart and that carried a lot of depth and weight for the viewers, one of the biggest was a project on homelessness. I entitled it ‘Homeless not Hopeless’. In this project I wanted to give people an inside perspective on the homeless community and hopefully change some opinions on the subject.
“Homelessness is a big issue everywhere and I had noticed that the numbers have risen so much over the years. I myself have been homeless and have had to rely on friends to stay off the streets. Even though I was not sleeping on the streets and I was safe, the situation was extremely stressful and had a major impact on my mental health and my recovery.
“I am 4 and a half years clean and sober and I do my best to protect my recovery and stay out of stressful situations like this.
“This year is the first year I have been entering the open call competitions in the UK and although I have had numerous knock backs and my confidence levels have been on a roller coaster, I am over the moon not only that one portrait in the 'Homeless not Hopeless' series was displayed in Birmingham's RSBA gallery for a month. But another three portraits that I entered as a Tryptych won the Derek Balmer award at the RWA Gallery in Bristol. This is already a great achievement for me.”
To follow more of Tat’s work and to keep up to date check out her online platforms