Art is freedom for student who 'epitomises the values of DMU'

A Fine Art student and his exhibition of paintings took centre stage at the launch of De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) new equality and diversity strategy.

Gavin Thackray-Jones main

Staff and students were asked what DMUfreedom means to them and Gavin Thackray-Jones, who has cerebral palsy, says it means being treated equally.

“DMU do that,” he said. “I love producing art, as it makes me feel free and enables me to be as creative as possible.”

Gavin’s condition affects people in different ways concerning their movement and their speech and he chose to study art as it allows him to express himself unhindered.

In his speech to launch the charter, which champions inclusivity, Gavin was described by the Vice-Chancellor as “the epitome of the values of DMU”.


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Professor Dominic Shellard said: “Gavin was told about all the things he couldn’t do, but when he came to DMU it was turned on its head. He was given the opportunity to do things he wanted.”

Some of Gavin’s latest works were on display at the event, which Gavin described as “a fantastic experience.” The paintings were inspired by his trip to New York with #DMUglobal, the university’s international experience programme open to all DMU students.

Gavin said he had always wanted to visit the city to see the artwork and architecture and soak up the atmosphere, which he has tried to capture in his paintings.

He said: “The highlight of the trip was everything!

“I liked the small, commercial galleries in Chelsea and was impressed by street artist Mr. Brainwash.”

Gavin NY trip 2nd main

Gavin was really looking forward to seeing Andy Warhol’s iconic works, as Pop Art is among his influences, but he admits to being a little disappointed by the Campbell’s Soup Cans.

However, much of the art he saw has already had an impact on the first year MA student’s work, as Gavin is now doing more collages and sculptures and experimenting with layers

An added bonus of his New York experience was meeting the captain during the flight.

“If I were able bodied, I would have been an airline pilot, which is the reason I paint commercial aeroplanes,” said Gavin, whose father was a member of the cabin crew of a 747.

Having already held solo exhibitions, Gavin said the Vice-Chancellor’s speech has given him another boost to concentrate on his ambition to be an internationally renowned artist.

Posted on: Wednesday 30 March 2016

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