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"Coquetdale Art Gallery", Coquetdale Arts Centre Gallery & Studio, Court Buildings, Front Street, Rothbury, Northumberland, NE65 7TZ Registered charity 511897

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 Jan Szymczuk

I was born in Stannington, in Northumberland in 1958 of Polish Parents. I grew up in the small mining village of Pegswood and started drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil.

I initially studied art at Newcastle Art College (Bath Lane) on a Foundation Course, got accepted onto a Degree at course at Newcastle, but due to financial commitments - my parents couldn't really afford to send me to College, then left the area for thirty years, and joined the Metropolitan Police in London, and ended my service at New Scotland Yard, and retired in 2009 as the senior Detective Police Artist.

I received accredited training with the Home Office and a Forensic Diploma with the FBI (Quantico). During a thirty year career, was involved in major crime investigations of all serious crimes, as an expert witness in the fields of composite sketching (Police Sketch), Photo-FIT, Computer composites (E-FIT), Photo Comparisons and Facial Mapping techniques.

In November 2011 to January 2012, I took part in assisting Rivane’s Neuenschwander’s First Love exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, where I was tasked as a former police sketch artist to interview and sketch visitors to her exhibition, and then compile their own First Love memories in an artists sketch, which were included in the Exhibition itself. Filmed by the Irish News TV and participated in an open panel discussion on memory at the IMMA.

In October 2012, I was invited down to Kensington in London to participate in the Memory Marathon being held at the Serpentine Gallery. Each participant was allotted 15 minutes to give a presentation on their own area's of excellence, mine being recalling traumatic memory from witnesses during my career as a senior police artist at New Scotland Yard.

In March 2015 I was one of the ten finalists in the BBC Big Painting Challenge on BBC One.

My graphite work (as a result of my evidential background) is of a very photorealistic nature but I am starting to become a little looser in my painting style.

My favourite medium after graphite is acrylic and oils, which I love to use when I’m painting landscapes, animals, dogs, horses and portraits. After years of using graphite pencils, I am only now, feeling I am finding my own style in using colour, and hopefully, can try and achieve the detail in my paintings I know can achieve in pencil.

In between my paintings and taking commissions, walking my two Samoyed in the local Northumbrian countryside, I teach art and give workshops in basic drawing and sketching techniques as well as painting in acrylic.

I teach art locally in my studio and I also give demonstrations and workshops to local art groups and communities.

I'm an unforgettable character easily recognised locally by my long silver hair and cowboy hat, both of which accompany me wherever I wander (sounds like a song title that!)

You can see a collection of my work on my website at www.jans-art.co.uk I also have an online art video tutorial site on YouTube www.youtube.com/c/JansArt