Ex-alcoholic artist creates beer tins sculpture

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A former alcoholic has canned the addiction and turned to art, taking his battle with homelessness and desperation onto the streets.

Simon Botterill has created My Special Friend - a sculpture of a man made from cans of Special Brew and tape - which he photographs in different sites around the city.

Simon Botterill

Simon Botterill

The dad-of-four and fine arts student explained how he turned his life around through art, and said he hoped to highlight homelessness and addiction through the project.

“Maybe hitting rock bottom was the best thing that happened to me”, said artsit Simon, 40, “because I’ve found myself and now I’m doing exactly what I love doing.”

The University of Central Lancashire student, who now lives in Ingol, became homeless two years ago and stayed in the Fox Street hostel.

He said: “In 2008 before the crash I was working as a scaffolder. There was no work and I couldn’t get anything, I started drinking.

It is called My Special Friend. He was always there for me, in every off-licence, when I needed him he was always there

“My partner didn’t like it, and I moved out and stayed with friends.

“The friend, unbeknown to me, wasn’t paying the rent, and that’s when I got into Fox Street.

“I was at my lowest, I was drinking heavily in the morning, I used to have to drink just to stop the shakes.”

Simon said while he was staying in the homeless hostel he would stay in his room and draw and paint.

He said: “One of the members of staff picked up on that and said it’s really good, so somebody suggested going to university.

“So I took the paintings down on the off-chance, and the rest is history.

“I got a flat shortly after that and started university in the September.”

Simon said he had spent the summer “soul searching” and said: “I’ve been trying to avoid that story because I didn’t want it to seem like I was trying to exploit it, but then I thought ‘I’ve lived this, I can speak about it’.

“I’m genuine, it’s real.”

He said his photography project was a “narrative story”, and he eventually hopes to turn it into a book.

He said: “I’m not going to give it away, the narrative could change, but it’s something people can follow.”

Simon said he made the sculpture from cans and tape, and said: “I still enjoy a drink when I go to the pub, but I’m not an alcoholic any more.

“Special Brew is significant, it was brewed for Winston Churchill and it’s got it’s own history that people aren’t aware of.

“It’s to try to get away from the stigma, it’s associated with tramps on the street but it comes from the higher echelons of society.

“It is called My Special Friend. He was always there for me, in every off-licence, when I needed him he was always there.”

Simon has an Instagram account, Simon Peter Botterill, where people can follow My Special Friend around the city.