Peckham artist features in book of success stories of people with learning difficulties

By Charlie Parry

A new book of success stories from people with learning disabilities features a record breaking artist who created a new world for herself in her sketchbook.

Laura Broughton, 42, from Peckham, became the first woman with a learning disability to win a place at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition in 2016.

Out of 12,000 submissions, one of her pencil drawings was chosen to be displayed at the exhibit.

Her learning difficulties mean she struggles to communicate and often feels anxious, but drawing comes to the rescue.

“I have difficulties – but I lose them in the moment of creating,” Laura said.

“I can focus on art and nothing else matters, so that’s why I enjoy it. When I draw or paint, all I have to think about is what I’m creating. I call it being in ‘Laura’s world’.”

She inherited her love of drawing from her mother, who studied at Camberwell College of Arts.

Laura, pictured top, studied at the City & Guilds of London Art School in Kennington Park Road where she now has a studio.

Her home town of Peckham has been a big help, and an inspiration.

“I like Peckham because public transport is good and it’s easy for me to get to places, like my mum’s, swimming, Choice Support, the Royal Drawing School and West End galleries,” she said.

“I like people-watching in busy places, where I see everyone rushing around.

“I like to sit quietly somewhere and watch it all happening. I often paint people in the city because the pace and vibrancy of city life both excites and terrifies me.”

As well as working on her art projects, Laura is an “expert by experience” at Choice Support, a care provider in Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth. She helps to make sure care services are adequately delivered.

Laura wishes she could engage more with the creative community in Peckham, but her learning difficulties often hold her back.

She said: “I find it difficult to keep up in group or social situations.

“Making arrangements to get or keep connected is very challenging for me.

“The difficulties I have mean making sentences quickly enough is too much for me, and also keeping track of what I’ve said when people talk over one another. I get tired, feel awkward and then detach.”

Her full story – amongst others that defy stereotypes – can be read in Saba Salman’s new book Made Possible.


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