ARTIST Andrew Mcleay, who works for the charity Ealing Soup Kitchen, has been highlighting those sleeping rough in the capital – through portrait painting.

Mr Mcleay, who has been painting since 2012, has completed more than 50 portraits of those he has met across the capital during lockdown. He figured that painting them might give them a great sense of worth.

“Painting is a lot harder than taking a photo,” he said. “In days gone by, you had to be rich or of note to have your portrait painted by someone and it really was an exclusive thing. You needed money or prestige.

“The homeless have neither and that’s why I felt they are the best subjects, as I can do them justice by immortalising them on a canvas.

“You can often tell people’s stories without uttering a single word through a single brushstroke, I feel I can give voices to the voiceless by doing things like this.”

Mr Mcleay’s plan is to exhibit all the paintings in an exhibition to show the stark contrast of faces he has met, but also as a great way of showing the public they needn’t be fearful of the homeless.

Mr Mcleay was homeless himself on arriving in London in 2008. Knowing how difficult it was to recover mentally from the experience, it inspired his catalogue of homeless paintings.