Nick Spencer, a resident here at CADS, is a shining example of someone coming up trumps after facing adversity.Since February 2011 Nick Spencer has rented a CADS studio to produce his innovative and engaging art, however, life has not always been such a success. Although art has inextricably permeated Nick’s life, from an A in art at school, to copying fellow inmates photographs in prison in exchange for cigarettes and biscuits, to painting and teaching at Sheffield’s Cathedral Archer Project, his life has also been tinged by drug abuse and homelessness.
Abandoned by his mum, Nick Spencer did not have the easiest start. Reunited with his estranged father he was brought up in Barnsley. A violent upbringing did not stop Nick academically as he achieved outstanding grades and showed exciting promise. Reunited with his mother, aged 14 he was ready to sit his exams before an argument found him on the streets, not before he had achieved an A in both Art and English GCSE.Young, vulnerable and talented, Nick moved back to Barnsley where he became hooked on prescription painkillers and morphine which then escalated to other substances. Selling off his possessions and compromising his career as a plasterer Nick became a nomad, living on the streets and moving from one city to another.
In 2003 he was imprisoned for robbery and on release he spent two years frequenting the Devonshire Green Quarter of Sheffield, sleeping rough and begging.Whilst in prison he had put his artistic ability to good use reproducing inmate’s photographs in exchange for luxuries. The news of his talent spread throughout the cells of Doncaster and Armley as prisoners commissioned pieces drawn by Nick.Nick is now free of drugs and after spending time drawing and painting at the Cathedral Archer Project in Sheffield city centre he has sold pieces of art, including two painting to the Frog and Parrot pub, where he used to sit on the step and beg.
His works of art include portraits of his rock star idols including Mick Jagger, Joe Cocker, Jimmy Hendrix and Bob Marley – bringing his love of music and art together.