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Trained croupier's gamble on becoming a professional artist is a success

A former croupier's gamble to fulfil a childhood dream has led to that dream becoming reality. Samantha Greenhill has been working as a professional artist for the past 4 years after falling in love with art at School, more than 30 years ago. The 50 year old, who was born in London but grew up in Bournemouth, excelled in the subject and achieved a grade A at 'O' level, but thought it could never lead to a viable career, so she went to college to read business studies. But now, after working in casinos on cruise ships and overcoming a 20 year battle with ill health, she is selling her artwork at Wingates Gallery, which has galleries in Market Harborough and Leicester.

Samantha said:- "I loved art and was really good at it at School but, like everyone, I thought there was no money in it, so I took up a business studies course at a local college, I hated that course, so I dropped out of college after a year but did not really know what I wanted to do. I trained to be a croupier and started working at a casino. Then I went and worked as a croupier on cruise ships which sailed around the Caribbean. It was hard work but fun."

Samantha met her partner Andrew Lister while they were working in the same casino on a cruise ship. They decided to leave the ocean life behind to try to build a life together on dry land. Then, at the age of 26, Samantha fell ill. She said:- "It all started with severe headaches and me feeling totally wiped out. Within weeks, it got so bad that my eyes could not bear any light. I was spending up to six months bed-bound in a darkened room. The doctors eventually diagnosed Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and it plagued me for years. I lost 20 years of my life and I feared that I might never be well again."

But Samantha, who now lives in Southport, pulled through, helped by her love of art. Samantha added:- "I have always loved animals and had been painting and drawing portraits of people's pets before the ME struck and I threw myself into that again. "My art kept me calm, gave me a focus and gave me great enjoyment. I experimented with a range of materials but found that using pastels worked for me because they gave me the colour and depth that my intricate painting demanded."

Then, 1 day, Samantha went into Town to drop some clothes off at a dress agency which was next door to an art Gallery. Samantha explained:- "I wandered into the Gallery and chatted to the owner, who, after seeing some of my work, invited me to take part in an exhibition with other artists. I produced 6 pieces of work for that. They all sold and it was a revelation for me."

Samantha signed up with an art publisher and her work was spotted by Andrew and Kathryn Cartwright, who run Wingates Gallery. She added:- "They had bought some of my work then wanted me to hold an exhibition at their Gallery in Market Harborough, It was fabulous. When I met Andrew and Kathryn they were lovely. I was nervous and worried that, as Gallery owners, they might be a bit aloof and high brow as there is that impression which surrounds the art world. But they were really friendly and very supportive of me and my work. It was then that I knew I could make a success of being an artist. I find it amazing that I can fulfil a childhood dream and actually make money out of my love of art. This is something I should maybe have done more than 30 years ago, but it feels good to have got here in the end. I have got a lot of catching up to do."

Andrew also said that:- "We were instantly blown away by Samantha's talent as a wildlife artist. Her attention to detail is incredible and allows her to produce amazing pieces of work that really bring across the personality and character of every animal she paints. We had no hesitation in offering to sell Samantha's work and we booked her in for an exhibition at our Gallery as soon as we could as we wanted to share her art with our customers. She has proved to be one of our most popular artists and her work is always a big hit with our customers."

For more information about Wingates Gallery in Leicester and Market Harborough, visit:- WingatesGallery.Co.UK.

Liverpool Against Racism EMPOWERS City's teens

TEENAGERS from across Liverpool will come together to creatively explore what racism means to them. As part of the Liverpool Against Racism festival, the Youth EMPOWER Conference takes place, on Friday, 29 April 2022, and will see 60 young adults from Schools across the City Region engage in honest and frank discussions on the topic of discrimination. Professional boxing champion Natasha Jonas will lead an 'In Conversation' session sharing her experiences, following which a series of creative masterclasses will take place which will be facilitated by experts from the world of music, fashion, drama and journalism. These experts include:-

Laura Brosnan - Music journalist and Executive Editor of TRENCH magazine.

Andrew Ibi - Creative visual designer and the co-founder of FACE (Fashion Academics Creating Equality).

Keith Saha - Writer and Co-CE/Artistic Director of 20 Stories High Theatre Company.

Ngunan Adamu - BBC producer and presenter.

Tee - An acclaimed spoken word artist, music Director and graduate of LIPA and the award-winning LIMF Academy.

There will also be a number of sessions facilitated by the Anthony Walker Foundation and Mentivity; the inspirational mentoring organisation and alternative education provision.

It will be hosted by actress Paislie Reid who has appeared in BAFTA nominated drama I'm a Juvenile Delinquent; Jail Me! and worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The event will be delivered in partnership with the Anthony Walker Foundation and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) in collaboration with their Equality and Outreach Team.

There are a small number of places are still available for the free event. Any School which would like to be part of the unique summit should email:- CultureLiverpool@Liverpool.Gov.UK.

Creative Consultant Yaw Owusu said:- "It's a sad reality that hate and discrimination are clear to see in so many aspects of everyday life and young people are experiencing unprecedented exposure to discrimination. As a father, I can see first-hand the impact this can have and the importance of having open and honest conversations with youngsters, and laying the foundations for how they respond to racism and how they can be, and promote, active Anti racism. The Youth EMPOWER conference gives teenagers the opportunity to really think about what racism means to them, and in exploring that they will work with experts to help them articulate their thoughts and stance in a creative way; whether that's through writing, song, design or performance. Hearing from Olympian Natasha, will be a huge moment and without a doubt it's going to be an inspirational and impactful day. I'd like to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks to the Anthony Walker Foundation who are committed to building safer, stronger communities and LJMU who have helped make this important event possible."

Dominique Walker, Chair of the Anthony Walker Foundation, said:- "As the partner for the youth conference, we at the Anthony Walker Foundation, felt it was timely for us to develop transformative spaces for young people to discuss and develop solutions to racism in society. The foundation challenges racism, hate crime and discrimination through education, training, victim support services and community initiatives, so working with Liverpool Against Racism and the young people of the City, creating this anti racist space, will help us to build safer, stronger, and thriving communities for all."

Liverpool Against Racism runs from:- Sunday, 24 April to Saturday, 30 April 2022. Events include the Music Day, which will take over the Baltic and see acts like:- The Christians, MiC Lowry, The Farm, Låpsley and Zuzu perform. Tickets cost ₤5+ booking fee per venue.

A major conference will take place at The Spine, on the Tuesday, 26 April 2022, and see local, national and international contributors address racial and social inequalities and debate what meaningful change looks like. Historian and presenter David Olusoga OBE will give the keynote speech and will be joined by ITV News anchor and Loose Women Presenter Charlene White, and internationally renowned activist and writer Kevin Powell. Tickets cost ₤20+ booking fee per person.

Throughout the week, cultural organisations from across the City will stage their own activities to mark the event. These include:-

Hip hop trailblazers and 2 time Grammy winning group Arrested Development will perform for their 1st time in the City, on Tuesday, 26 April 2022, courtesy of 24 Kitchen Street and No Fakin.

A fascinating walking tour courtesy of Writing on the Wall will take place, on Sunday, 24 April 2022, and will look at the 1919 anti-black riots in Liverpool.

Throughout the week, Bluecoat will stage a special exhibition called Colonial Legacies which looks at the past of the historic building.

The 2 Step Collective will host a 5k run, at 6.30pm, on Wednesday, 27 April 2022.

On Thursday, 28 April 2022, Milap; the UK's leading Indian arts and culture company; will re-launch its music for the mind and soul concert series.

The whole programme has been curated by Creative Consultant Yaw Owusu.

For the latest event and line up information, or to purchase tickets, head to:- CultureLiverpool.Co.UK/Liverpool-Against-Racism.

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