My life: Lee Hadwin
The 'sleepwalking Picasso', whose work can be seen in Sha Tin, tells Stuart Heaver about his remarkable talent.
NIGHT OWL From the age of four I used to sleepwalk and make these scribbled drawing with crayons. The doctor told my parents it was just normal sleepwalking activity but from my teenage years the drawings became more intricate and complex. When I was 31, I offered to do a charity exhibition for a local hospice near my family home, in Wales, and somehow The Sun newspaper found out about my story and it all sort of snowballed from there.
EYES WIDE SHUT I can be up drawing at night three times a week and then not at all for months. I once went an entire year without drawing anything in my sleep. Some people say it's a gift but it's just a state of consciousness. I really don't know where the inspiration comes from and I can't understand the very different styles I paint in. I am as surprised as everyone else when I see what I have produced the next morning.
The new painting which I've put in the exhibition at HomeSquare (furniture mall in Sha Tin) only took me 10 minutes and I called it Beach, because the blue bits reminded me of the sea and sky. I like some of my work but some of it is a pile of sh**. This is the first time I have exhibited my work in Asia and there are lots of positive comments, but (a mall is) very different from a gallery, where everyone is interested in art. When I arrived in Hong Kong, I was completely knackered. I fell asleep in this box rigged with TV cameras they had constructed at HomeSquare and they filmed me. After two hours I got up and started drawing. It was good for them.
SLEEPWALKING IN HONG KONG I'm really enjoying being here but have been worried about the demonstrations, of course. I went down to sit with some of the protesters for a couple of hours just to show my support. I do a lot of work for the charities Amnesty International and Missing People so I am very passionate about human rights. While making a documentary (about my art, for ITV) in 2007/08, I was asked to go on a breakfast television show, where I met (English entrepreneur) Richard Branson, who is an ambassador for Missing People. While in the green room with him, I chatted to a woman who had lost her sister and she was in tears. She gave me a card for the charity and a year later I took it out and decided to help.
SNOB STORY I hate art snobs. If you want to buy a painting for £1 (HK$12.50) or £1 million that's fine with me as long as you like it. I got a right bashing for doing an exhibition at Ripley's (tourist attraction in London) last year, but my art is for everyone. In the art world it's all about who you know and being in with a cer-tain clique, like the Saatchis or whoever. I am just not interested in that scene. The art world does not really interest me. If people ask to buy one of my paintings I like to check if they can afford it. (American business magnate) Donald Trump has one of my paintings. One of his people saw an article about me in the Huffington Post and my manager arranged the sale. I received a phone call from Mr Trump's PA to say that he really liked the painting.
HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS I have lived in London for seven years and I have a place in Australia, but I am originally from a small village in north Wales, where there are only about 100 people. My family weren't at all artistic but my dad played in a country and western band, so there was a musical influence, I suppose. I was never any good at art at school and was given a D in my school reports. Before the sleep art became my living, I played in my dad's band and spent a long time backpacking across Australia, where I met my partner. I also worked as a carer for old folk with Alzheimer's in a residential home in Wales. Now I have lots of time during the day to support my charities and do media events.
NO CON ARTIST When I did the documentary for ITV, they had to be sure I was not a fraud. I had to see doctors and psychologists and they had cameras fixed in my bedroom for about six months. The weird thing was proving to the TV station that I was not faking it and that I couldn't draw in a waking state. My drawing is absolutely horrific when I am not asleep. It wouldn't bother me if the sleep drawing stopped. Apparently, it would make my art go up in value. It would be like being a dead artist but still alive.
Just be grateful for what you've got and take things as they come. That's what I try to do.
ONE ON ONE After my grandfather died, about six years ago, I started seeing the numerals 11-11 everywhere. On digital clocks, at railway stations and on till receipts. I was catching a train from Barcelona recently and it was Train 11, at Platform 11 that departed at 11:11. My grandfather's birthday was November 11, 1921. A friend suggested googling "numerology" and it turns out there are lots of people seeing 11-11 and some say they are "midwayers" - sort of angels from the spirit world. When I checked into my hotel here in Hong Kong they offered me a free upgrade and when they gave me the key it was for Room 1111.
The "Light Up Your Dream" bedding and lighting exhibition, featuring Lee Hadwin, runs at HomeSquare until next Sunday.