A COUNCIL handyman with a flair for art has opened his own gallery.

John Smith, who works in grounds maintenance for Spennymoor Town Council, has always enjoyed art.

Around a decade ago he began exhibiting and selling work at venues like the McGuinness Gallery at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, The Bob Abley Art Gallery at Spennymoor Town Hall, Spennymoor Settlement and Discovery Museum in Newcastle. His work also hangs in the four-star Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham.

Using mostly oils and pastels, he has produced around 200 pictures from his allotment greenhouse and garden shed studio but many remained hidden in storage in a spare bedroom until Saturday when he opened The House of Smudge on Fore Bondgate, Bishop Auckland.

The 41-year-old, from Spennymoor, said: "I wasn't really ready for a gallery, for ages I've been saying in five years I'll get my own place, in five years, then I got first refusal here so took the opportunity and scraped my savings together to give it a go.

"It is exciting and scary at the same time, I'm a normal bloke who works for the council so to have a gallery feels strange. I hope it feels contemporary and homely, so people can imagine how the work would look in their house.

"I have to thanks lots of friends and family for their support, family volunteers will help me run it while we see how it goes over the first months."

Around a year ago Mr Smith went to a four-day week working for the council to give him more time to concentrate on his art.

  • The House of Smudge, at 46 Fore Bondgate, will open Tuesday to Saturday from 10.30am to 4pm.