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Big Jeff announces art show
Photograph: Ania Shrimpton

Big Jeff, the UK’s biggest music fan, is putting on his own art show

The legendary Bristolian gig-goer has had a creative pandemic

Sophie Dickinson
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Sophie Dickinson
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Big Jeff, everyone’s favourite fuzzy-haired live-music aficionado, is always in the crowd at a show. If you’ve ever been to a gig in Bristol, you’ll know what we’re on about. And you may well have spotted him at major festivals worldwide too.

But this autumn, Jeff – full name Jeffrey Johns – is turning the attention on himself – although if you’re expecting a gig, think again.

Lockdown revealed a new passion for Big Jeff: painting. Not content with messing around with watercolours in his front room, the local headbanging legend is putting on an art show in Bristol.

The paintings are also being released in three phases on his website. Unsurprisingly, music features a lot in his art. The bright, psychedelic images focus on banjo players, saxophonists and singers, though there are self-portraits too.

For Jeff, mental health is another pretty salient topic. Of the project, he said: ‘Art for me has been about expressing emotions I can’t explain another way. These paintings highlight my issues with barriers and hidden anxiety and mental health.

‘How people see me is one thing – but internally I sometimes feel completely different. I use art as a way of expressing things that aren’t always easy to discuss.’

The exhibition is on at The Island in Bristol from November 16 to 21. Entry is free, and you can find out more here.

Heading down to see the show? Here are the 20 best things to do in Bristol while you’re there.

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