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Meet Paul Kneen - Stamford's artist with a message

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Stamford could have its own ‘Banksy’ in our own backyard in the shape of a marketing man.

As Paul Kneen works in marketing, but is also an accomplished artist, whose works have been shown in London and South Africa.

Recently moving to Stamford to be with family, Paul has created a website to promote products developed by the area’s creative community and he is keen to put on a show here.

Paul Kneen and his artwork
Paul Kneen and his artwork

The 44-year-old was born in Nottinghamshire but grew up mostly on the edge of the Lake District in Ulverston, Cumbria.

He studied 3D design at Sheffield University and on graduation started a business designing interior products such as fruit bowls, vases and teapots.

However, Paul ended up in a ‘normal’ job in London, marketing for a financial institution.

Paul Kneen's artwork
Paul Kneen's artwork

But some years later he fancied an adventure and went to South Africa, where he set up a marketing consultancy, working for vineyards and holiday resorts.

“I had always been interested in painting. I once won a newspaper painting competition as a child and in London I went to visit many exhibitions. At the time Banksy became popular and that opened my eyes to street art.”

Such art uses spray paint and shows paintings don’t have to be pretty, but can have a message.

“The big thing to me is that the painting has something to say- consumerism, the huge divide between rich and poor, fast food and obesity, climate change, animal extinction, the mass destruction of the planet.”

Paul Kneen's artwork
Paul Kneen's artwork

Paul started showing his work in South Africa but on a trip to London in 2017, where he showed some of his work in London and made a few sales, Paul felt his time in South Africa was done and it was time to return home.

He took a marketing job in Peterborough and two years ago moved to Stamford as he has family in the town, including his mum and two sisters.

Paul then set up a website www.creativefolk.co.uk to encourage other artists to promote and sell their own work.

Paul Kneen's artwork
Paul Kneen's artwork

“I can showcase my own art as well as other artists. The main reason behind Creative Folk is a lot of art galleries have pricing that almost becomes elitist. It stops the person in the street from being able to afford a piece of work. I want to offer art at prices everyone can afford.”

The website has three other artists on board, but there is room for more. There have been sales and business is building up. The website also features a blog, where Paul interviews some fairly well-known artists, and he also runs competitions.

Paul took part in last month’s Patchings Art festival and intentionally left some of his works behind, hoping somebody would pick them up.

Paul Kneen and his artwork
Paul Kneen and his artwork

“I received a message from someone to say they loved the picture and it is hanging in their house.”

Paul plans some similar philanthropy in Stamford soon and he hopes to put on a show in the town and become part of its artistic community.

And whilst he accepts Stamford and South Kesteven might be relatively conservative, Paul says people are open to his left-leaning messages.

“I think they find it refreshing. Not everything is to everyone’s taste but there is something for everybody as long as it makes you think.

“Even if you don’t agree with the message, hopefully it will start a conversation.

“It might make you think twice about recycling, do I need a bigger or fancier model of car?”

Paul says there are other street artists that he admires but he thinks his work is different as it contains an “intelligent message behind it”.

Such work features the 1980s computer game character Pacman to show how humans are devouring everything on the planet.

Another piece of work features an American Indian Brave as the Statue of Liberty to highlight indigenous Americans and that the USA really is the ‘Home of the Brave’.

But what about it’s president, Donald Trump, who has been lampooned by so many?

That is perhaps why Paul has not yet tackled him.

“It’s almost too easy to take the mickey out of him. Lots of people already have!”

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