If you’re a member of any of the local Facebook groups such as Beeston Updated, you may have come across some of the superb paintings of local people by Matt Lyons. We got in touch with Matt for some background about him and the paintings, so here it is in his own words:

“The process started because I really got into painting during Covid. I have always painted, but found that working from home gave me more time to really commit to it. I had been buying photographs from a life-drawing school in Glasgow to paint from, but I wanted to pose and paint from my own photographs so I had more control. I was inspired by Vincent Van Goch, who painted everyday people from the place he lived. There was one painting, Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin, which became a bit of an obsession for me and a massive inspiration for the project.

We have a local postman, Will Gavin, who lives over the road from me, and I decided he would be a really great subject because he, like Joseph Roulin, possessed a magnificent beard and I thought it would be good to paint him in the same pose as Joseph Roulin. Will is actually a fine art graduate, so understands the process of painting and was really happy to pose for me. I was delighted with the result, and it got me thinking, maybe I could ask other local people to pose for me? I didn’t know where to start with that, so asked the Beeston Updated community on Facebook to make recommendations. I was inundated!!

I’ve been painting portraits now for 6 months and have fourteen completed that I am happy with. I’ve got the next couple lined up too so should be busy for a while.

To thank all the people who let me paint them, and to celebrate the people of Beeston I am planning an exhibition of the final twenty portraits in Beeston Parish Church (the church by the tram stop in Beeston) from the 10th to the 13th of September. I am arranging a private view for the sitters and their families on the 9th. I really hope that the people of Beeston will come along to see some familiar faces that they (hopefully) recognise!”