DMU art grad heads to Hollywood for solo show

Artist Jonjo Elliott is heading to Hollywood after being talent spotted by a gallery just months after graduating from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

Some 16 large-scale paintings – colourful, vibrant work inspired by his love of travel – are already packed and delivered to the Artplex Gallery in California ready for his solo show. And Jonjo himself will follow in a week with his family for the grand opening.

“It’s amazing, it sounds clichéd but it is a dream come true,” said Jonjo. “I mean, me the Leicester lad, in Hollywood – incredible.”

Jonjo was 40 when he decided to go back to school, to study Fine Art at DMU. He’d always drawn and painted and once at university, was obsessed with learning as much as he could about artists and the craft. “I lived in the library. I spent all my time in there just learning about the great artists and how they worked. I knew I wanted to be a painter, and make a living doing it.”

During his time at DMU he teamed up with fellow artists and decided to start StudionAme, transforming a former warehouse in Brougham Street, St Matthews, into a home for an art collective and gallery.

JONJO main two

Now it’s packed with artists from all different disciplines and has a waiting list of artists who want to have a space there.

It was while showing with the StudionAme crew that Jonjo’s artwork was spotted by a rep from Artplex. The team had been invited to London’s Affordable Art Fair in London which is one of the biggest art shows of its kind in the UK.

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“This guy saw my work and said that he wanted to show some of it in LA. I thought, ‘right okay’ I thought he was winding me up to be honest but no, it checked out and I sent over three or four big pieces and they sold straight away which is wicked.

“I mean you never know whether what you do is going to click with other people but no, they were popular so I sent some more and they sold as well, and then they asked if I wanted a solo show.”

JONJO main one

It has meant months of hard work, putting together new pieces and preparation – as well as booking flights for his wife and four children on the trip of a lifetime to California.

“It’s always been this dream to go to California,” he said. “I’ve always been kind of a surfer dude and getting to go there, it’s like the best place I could ever visit. I’m so hyped and I just know that I’m going to get so much inspiration for new work too.”

And it’s not only Jonjo who has been taking artwork created in Leicester to some of the world’s biggest cities. Ali Carpenter, another StudionAme artist, is just back from a residency in Tokyo while Tim Fowler is showing in New York later this year.

“I am so proud of what StudionAme has achieved in just two years,” said Jonjo. “We are really showing that art isn’t just something that happens in London.”

Jonjo Elliot’s solo show Glass Half Full opens at the Artplex Gallery on July 18. To find out more about Jonjo and his work visit www.jonjoelliott.com

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Posted on: Friday 28 June 2019

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