PEOPLE who have turned their lives around with the help of Gloucester House are displaying their work as part of an art exhibition in the town centre.

A Christmas exhibition run by Artsite in Theatre Square includes work by people in rehabilitation at Gloucester House and homeless people at Booth House, as well as Swindon artists and members of Artsite.

Among the artists in the exhibition is Matthew James, 36, of Walcot, who has been at Gloucester House for five months to overcome his alcohol addiction.

“Things have changed a lot for me since I have been at Gloucester House. It has changed my attitude to life. There is much more to life than alcohol,” said the father-of-three.

“Life looks a lot better now. Art is a big part of that.

“I have spent a lot of time in the workshop. I never really did any painting before I went to Gloucester House.

“It is great to know other people can see my work now. When people say they are good, I feel proud. I am going to carry on painting – I might even go on to college and find out the tricks of the trade.”

Michael’s work is in the window of the Community Gallery, opposite the Post Modern Gallery in Theatre Square. He has painted a hare, a sunset and a heron.

Each Christmas, Artsite supports an organisation that improves people’s lives and this year they are supporting The Salvation Army, particularly their work with Booth House in the town centre and Gloucester House in Highworth.

The exhibition, which is called A Christmas Carol: The Real Meaning of Christmas, runs until Saturday in the Post Modern Art Gallery and in the Community Gallery.

It includes paintings, installations, assemblage and prints.

The finale of the Christmas celebration takes place on Saturday at 2pm in Theatre Square and will include music, poetry and an auction of work followed by a carol concert by The Salvation Army.

The auction will include 8in canvases, which are on display in the Post Modern, one of which has been painted by Michael, 43, of Birmingham, who has been at Gloucester House for three months to overcome his alcohol addiction.

His work includes an 8in canvas of a man and a cross in the Post Modern Art Gallery and another piece featuring an oil rig in the Community Gallery window.

“Art helps me express my feelings,” he said. “The man in the canvas is at a very low point in his life because he is in prison. This painting is about optimism, in a way. The man in the painting was like me and I can relate to that.

“Gloucester House is a lifesaver. I would be dead if it wasn’t for Gloucester House, most of us would be.

“They put the magic back into your life and you realise there is a world out there.”

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