Canonbury street artist Gary Power: The man behind the easel

Gary Power. Picture: Polly Hancock

Gary Power. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

As Gary Power points out, it’s rare to see an artist in the middle of the street behind an easel. He tells the Gazette the story of his Canonbury street art.

Gary Power is the Canonbury artist who accidentally found fame when his kit didn’t get stolen.

In August, the Gazette reported how a callous thief nicked his work and tools worth £400 in Compton Road.

But after we ran the appeal on our front page, it turned out “Louis the cab driver” had seen the gear unattended and taken it to the police station.

The equipment was left in the street because Gary, 52, is a carer for his wife and was checking up on her.

In the past few years, he has become known in Canonbury as “the man behind the easel”. Chances are you will bump into him as he oil paints his latest street scene.

“There has been quite a lot of attention recently,” Gary, of Colebeck Mews, reports. “Tracy Ullman, the actress, even bought a couple of paintings. Celebrity doesn’t matter as people are people, but I think it’s kind of amusing when famous people buy your work.”

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Gary was born in the old Royal Free Hospital in Liverpool Road, and has lived in Islington nearly all his life.

“I come from a creative family – my mum was an actress – so I guess that was passed down. I’ve done acting and poetry, but primarily I’m a painter. I spent 20 years painting the sky and had an exhibition at the Barbican.

“But I started painting around Canonbury a few years ago due to my partner’s disability. I don’t want to be too far away from her.

“I love Canonbury. I’ve lived here since 1999, so I’ve really enjoyed doing the street art. I have nowhere else to work so it focuses the mind.”

He continues: “One thing I’ve also got to notice is just how village-y Canonbury is. We are quite far away from main roads like Upper Street and Holloway Road and sometimes you can’t even hear the traffic.

“People have got to know my face. They are curious, probably because it’s not often you see someone painting in the street. It’s old fashioned, but I love painting things you see in life.”

Such is his love for Canonbury that Gary is aiming to hold an exhibition next year.

“I have about 35 oil paintings of Canonbury now, so my vision is an exhibition, perhaps at Canonbury Tower.

“Hopefully there would be other work, too – I’m not the Canonbury artist, I’m a Canonbury artist.”