Burntisland man helps kids with autism to express themselves

Burntisland artist Leo du Feu works with a pupil from St Crispin's school in Edinburgh as part of an outreach programme run by the charity  Art in Healthcare.

Burntisland artist Leo du Feu works with a pupil from St Crispin's school in Edinburgh as part of an outreach programme run by the charity Art in Healthcare.

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Leo puts his ‘art into work’

A Burntisland-based artist is using his creative skills to help children with autism to express themselves.

Leo du Feu

Leo du Feu

Leo du Feu, who moved to the seaside town six months ago, is playing a key part in Art in Healthcare’s outreach sessions.

The charity provides artwork for healthcare organisations around Scotland, helping to create stimulating environments that positively affect mental wellbeing and contribute to an effective healing process.

It also has a popular outreach programme which aims to provide creative learning experiences for people in care environments to help encourage social interaction, build self-esteem and develop new skills.

Leo (30) has been involved with Art in Healthcare for two years, originally donating two paintings to the charity. He was then asked to run some art workshops for older people, which he enjoyed doing, and has since run workshops in the Sick Kids Hospital and St Crispin’s School for children with special care needs in Edinburgh, as well as taking part in the popular annual Edinburgh Art Fair.

Leo explained: “My main workshops have been at St Crispin’s where the majority of children have severe forms of autism. It is fascinating getting to meet children with such different and complex needs and I really enjoy working with them.

“I’ve gotten to know them all well, and it is really satisfying to see them developing. Some respond really well to touch, so I use a lot of tactile materials – rolling natural objects like shells and pine cones in paint then onto paper.

“I’ve been asked to run more workshops at the school and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Leo was delighted when one of the St Crispin’s boy’s AinH artworks won second prize in the National Galleries Tesco Bank art competition, which is currently on show in Edinburgh.

Some of Leo’s work with the children will be featured in the Art in Healthcare’s charity fundraising exhibition which starts tomorrow (Friday) at the Atticsalt Gallery in Edinburgh’s Thistle Street North East Lane. The exhibition runs until September 1.

Visit www.artinhealthcare.org.uk for more information on the charity, or visit Leo’s website at www.leodufeu.co.uk.

The artist

Born in Edinburgh in 1984, Leo graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2006. His inspiration is the natural world which he takes every opportunity to explore.

He does a lot of work for charity and in 2011 was asked to paint a giant fibreglass jungle animal as part of Jungle City Edinburgh – a project raising money for The Elephant Family conservation charity.