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Catching up with… Paul MacDonald

October 6, 2020 by cpark750

Local artist and friend of Happy Valley Pride

Happy Valley Pride has been lucky enough to partner with all sorts of interesting people over the years. None more so than local artist, Paul MacDonald.

Artwork by Paul MacDonald
Artwork by Paul MacDonald

Paul has participated in many Happy Valley Pride events over the years and will be a familiar face to many. We caught up with him to find out how this crazy year has been for him and what is on the horizon for him.

“I scribble all day long,” he told me “I just follow a train of thought and go off on a tangent. “His style is an instantly enjoyable comic book style, “I am inspired by sci fi, Daleks or even fairy tales.”

He is currently hard at work on fifteen paintings for an exhibition in the future.“They are ones that I couldn’t finish,” he explains “Because I’d had a rest, I could paint better, with more confidence and awareness of colour.” Paul experiments with all styles of art but this new collection is straight painting of acrylic on canvas.

Artwork by Paul MacDonald
Artwork by Paul MacDonald

I got a sneaky peek and they are wonderful. Once the exhibition is over, there will be a chance to snap up one of his creations.“I have everything I need, so I want to sell art for charity.”

Whilst his art has always been a part of his life, Paul focused primarily on it following his diagnosis for Parkinson’s Disease.“I was diagnosed at forty-five. I was a drama and clown teacher. I used to travel all over the world. I lost the use of my left arm and my ankle was not healing. I went for physiotherapy and they noticed a tremor.” Paul realised that this would have a huge impact on his life and started to look into changes that would need to be made.

“I was living in Sussex and had to have help with my teaching which had an impact on my income.So, I came back to Halifax where I grew up. I had a great Parkinson’s nurse who taught me mindfulness and CBT which really helped me to focus. I decided then that I wanted to draw.”Like many other artists, Paul soon felt the lure of Hebden Bridge and of course, Happy Valley Pride.

“I moved to Hebden three years ago. I had paintings in the second Happy Valley Pride show, an AndyWarhol and a Lee Bowery. Then, in the third and fourth years, I had my own show.” So, what is next?“Next is about pulling everything together. I have a few things coming up which are exciting. I have been making videos during lockdown too. I like to use things around the house. Whatever I have, I make something with. I like to think big for that particular moment. If you have two spoons, make them your theatre.”

Lockdown has affected us all but for Paul, the lack of a dancefloor this year has been incredibly difficult. “Dancing is great therapy for Parkinson’s and wonderful exercise, I also get to throw the clown in me out there. Walking is a predicable form of exercise, but dance isn’t. It fights our sedentary inhibiting culture. Life should be fluid. I find it a great way to get out my problems. I can be silly and naughty all at the same time.”

Paul may have been stuck indoors but I can confirm that the glint in his eye is still present and correct. “Humour is essential to what I do. I can be inclined to burst into dance whenever I can’t hold back anymore. I was in Madrid and dancing with mannequins in an art gallery. I turned around and realised a load of Japanese tourists were watching me.”

Paul currently has work on show at Wadsworth Community Centre, Old Town.


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