BRITAIN’S most notorious prisoner Charles Bronson is launching a major art exhibition – and he hopes it will help his bid for freedom after nearly half a century behind bars.
Thousands of his paintings and digital artworks will go on sale in London next week and could fetch a staggering £1.5million.
7Thousands of Charles Bronson’s art pieces are going up for sale in London next weekCredit: Rex Features7Charles went on to become one of the most violent inmates in British jails, often taking hostages during confrontations with guards7Bronson’s art could play a major part in his final steps to freedomIf so, £500,000 is expected to go to 70-year-old Bronson, who is the subject of two parole hearings next month to decide if he can go free after 47 years in some of Britain’s toughest jails and secure hospitals.
Born Michael Peterson, he first went to jail in 1974 for armed robbery.
Apart from two brief spells of freedom, he has been locked up ever since, with his terms increased due to his repeated violence inside.
The exhibition will see around 8,500 of his sketches, paintings, poems and personal writing up for sale at East London’s Henarch Galleries from Thursday.
There are also 1,500 digital NFT artworks on sale online today.
Prices start at £450 and go up to £30,000. If the sale does reach £1.5million, then £1million will go to charity, while £500,000 will be held in trust for Bronson until he is released.
The Parole Board recently confirmed that hearings will be held on March 6 and 8 to decide whether Bronson, who was played by Tom Hardy in a 2008 biopic of his life, can go free.
Currently a Category A inmate in HMP Woodhill, Bucks, Bronson has at times been held in all England’s three secure psychiatric hospitals.
When he was released from his first stint inside in 1987 he made his living as an unlicensed boxer in London’s East End.
‘Art saved my soul’
His promoter suggested he change his name to Charles Bronson, in tribute to the hard-man Hollywood actor whose movies included Death Wish and The Great Escape.
The following year Bronson was back behind bars for robbing a jewellery store.
7Charles has produced 12 pieces of artwork entitled ‘The Dirty Dozen’ all whilst behind barsCredit: Splash News7Charles Bronson started painting in 19947Bronson was played by Tom Hardy in a 2008 biopic of his lifeCredit: HandoutHe went on to become the most violent inmate in British jails, often taking hostages during his many confrontations with guards.
On one occasion he smeared himself in butter during a rumble with officers in riot gear, hoping the grease would make it harder to restrain him.
He was upset that Arsenal had won the FA Cup.
His sentence was eventually increased to life imprisonment.
But in recent years he claims to have turned over a new leaf, channelling his energies into art.
He changed his name to Charles Salvador in tribute to Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali.
A source said: “Even though he has kept himself fit, there’s no way Charlie can go back to earning his living as an unlicensed fighter when released from jail.
“And nor does he want to, because has turned his back on crime.”
Instead, Bronson plans to become a full-time artist and move to a caravan by the sea in Devon.
He started painting in 1994.
In one illustration depicting Bronson in a cage in “HMP Madness”, he wrote: “Inside the cage I found myself.
“I became an artist . . . a man on a mission. I changed from a mad man into a genius. My art saved my soul.”
Bronson has said: “My world is bars. Bars, and cameras, locked doors, high walls and barbed wire.
“What do people expect me to paint? Flowers, landscapes, bowls of fruit? This is my life.”
His vast collection going on show in the Stay Sane exhibition next week includes unseen pieces, 3D art, poems and personal writings.
Friend Richard Booth, who helped with the exhibition, said: “Nobody condones criminality but I do believe that offenders can be helped to break the cycle of reoffending.
“Charlie has used his art to help rehabilitate him- self. Helping young offenders has become increasingly important to him.
He wants to use his experience to prevent others following the same path.”
However, former Met Police Flying Squad detective Peter Kirkham believes it is wrong for prisoners to be allowed to cash in on their notoriety.
He said: “His life is his life and if someone wants to pay money for some version of that, then it’s up to them. It scares me to say it, but how long before we see someone like this as the new guest on Big Brother?
“It’s wrong, because people simply shouldn’t gain from their crimes, directly or indirectly.”
7Charles’ vast collection of art and writing is going on show in the Stay Sane exhibition in London next weekIn 2010 one of Bronson’s pictures was taken off display at Angel station on the London Underground after the National Victims Association objected.
Bronson’s London exhibition is a collaboration between the prisoner, Crypto Correct and the Born For Art Foundation, which will receive a third of all funds raised through the sale of the NFTs.
A spokesman for the exhibition said: “Some people say the artwork shows the dark corners of a disturbed mind. But supporters say the scenes reflect the events he has witnessed and lived. It is art that has come straight from his soul.”
Now Bronson’s art could play a major part of his final step to freedom.
He says: “I believe a lot of art is an expression of emotion and love, feelings and pain. If you don’t feel it then it’s not real art.
“Some of my works I’ve drained myself creating. It’s like a workout, it’s that powerful to me.
“I’m going to do my art and create masterpieces until my heart stops beating.
“I want to be one of the greatest artists. I am an artist — a man of peace.”
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk