Big Jeff Johns Unveils His First Exhibition of Artworks

Our first ever non-artist IVW ambassador, legendary Bristol gig-goer and wonderful member of the IVW family Big Jeff Johns has announced his first very own exhibition of artworks which is online now for you to see.

Big Jeff welcomes you to his world, see you down the front

Prolific Bristol music fan Big Jeff is unveiling his first exhibition of artworks, entitled ‘Welcome To My World’.

The paintings, some of which have a musical influence, were created to surprise and challenge the viewer, instigating conversations about mental health and inspiring people in similar situations to make art themselves.

Two years in the making, the collection features 34 artworks to challenge perceptions of anxiety, which is being experienced by so many after the events of the last 12 months. The full collection will be released in three phases, each with an accompanying film to explore the exhibition virtually. Signed Limited Edition prints of 25 and unlimited unsigned prints of each piece will be available to buy via his new website .

Big Jeff Johns explains:

“I use drawing and painting as a form of self-reflection. A lot of my work echoes my struggles around feeling like I don’t fit into this world. Art for me has been about expressing emotions I can’t explain another way. These paintings highlight my issues with hidden anxiety and mental health and the barrier these create. How people see me is one thing – but internally I sometimes feel completely different. I use art as a way of expressing things that aren’t always easy to discuss. My first painting was of a music artist called Raggs. The painting came together around a blurry photo I had taken at a gig. I began to paint an imaginary world around her image.”

Raggs features in the first collection of 14 paintings, which have been hung in Bristol Beacon’s Glass Room, and will be launched in collaboration with the venue as a virtual exhibition shot by the Bristol Beacon team on 3rd February. Later in the year, the paintings will be showcased as part of the Super Cool Drawing Machine exhibition, a celebration of the visual art created by a host of internationally acclaimed touring musicians, running from 20th to 23rd May at Bristol Beacon.

Jeff continues:

“I began painting as a way of dealing with lots of difficult emotions and struggling with the world around me. It came as a natural and cathartic release. Art for me is about creating space for myself and using my creativity to find my voice. At times this can be intimidating. My grandmother gave me some paints. She was a prolific tapestry artist and when I went to stay with her, I would sit in the early morning as she was working on her loom. She has had a huge conscious and unconscious influence on my work.”

The collection is a riot of colour with moments captured from or inspired by many of the city’s music venues, where Jeff can often be found, right in front of the stage.

Exhibition curator Lee Dodds explains;

“We have been working with Jeff for a couple of years now, after discovering his brilliant talent after he posted a photo of “Raggs” on Facebook. We spoke to Jeff about buying the painting and asked him he has painted anything else. Jeff wasn’t sure if we were serious and that’s when a conversation began about sharing his work with the world! His paintings are uplifting and will definitely be popular with music fans and art collectors in Bristol and beyond. It’s also important to Jeff to use this moment to highlight and invite conversation about mental health issues and anxiety, and encourage others to use creative outlets to enable them to express their feelings.”

Todd Wills, Artistic Director at Bristol Beacon, said:

“We’re extremely proud to be able to work with Jeff to exhibit his art for the first time, both online and in situ at Bristol Beacon.  Whilst many of us feel we know Jeff after seeing him at countless shows over the years this feels like an opportunity to get to understand another side of him through his art and what’s being expressed within it.  Personally, I was blown away by the work he’s produced and I’ve no doubt others will feel the same.”   

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