The church thief who turned to painting

| July 28, 2010

He was jailed at fourteen years old and spent 32 years of his life in prison.

In his life of crime Bob Farquhar burgled churches and broke into Wells Cathedral .

In a life full of twists, the latest is his chance re-discovery as a talented artist.

Bob – known as 'Bob the Brush' in jail – won three Koestler awards, given to prison painters who produce exceptional work.

"When you are incarcerated for 24 hours a day…it's an ideal place to study because you are away from domesticity. You don't have to worry about the rent, the food etc." he said.

"You somehow paint away the bars."

He still paints with a picture of the awards founder, Arthur Koestler, next to his easel.

Then, when he came out of prison twenty five years ago, he set up a gallery in London and became a Koestler judge.

His backers included Sir Hugh Casson , former chairman of the Royal Academy.

Yet then he disappeared from the art scene again, finally settling in Hastings.

A picture by Bob Farquhar, showing a man in prison looking at family on a beach

It was there that he was found again by Josie O'Rourke.

"He had a battered old portfolio of everything that he had ever painted during his life and his time in prison." she said.

" I convinced him to let me take it around the galleries to see if there would be any interest and the first place I stopped was the Hastings Arts Forum ." she said.

That in turn led to a new relationship with the art world .

He got support and an exhibition. Now The Royal Society of Arts have asked him to be a guest artist at their exhibition at Battle Abbey this September.

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