Able2Do Anything: Achievements

Artist with learning disability publishes autobiography

 Larry MacAree

An inspiring artist with a learning disability is set to publish his autobiography later this month at Belfast’s Bounce Arts Festival.

Local lad Larry MacAree relocated to South Belfast in 1978 to escape the Troubles in his childhood years.

The experience is captured in his art where he paints haunting memories, such as the time a statue of the Virgin Mary was smashed by a gunshot through one of the windows outside his family home.

MacAree’s book ‘My Life with Them’ follows his relationships with the people who mean the most to him in his life with fascinating and page-turning anecdotes with hand-drawn illustrations and photos he has taken over the years.

The author said: "It was good fun. I always wanted to write my life story."

MacAree's 60-page publication was made possible thanks to the University of Atypical’s Chris Ledger Legacy Award funded by Unlimited and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Damien Coyle, Chief Executive of the University of Atypical, told Belfast Live: “Larry was a worthy winner of a Chris Ledger award in 2021. He was the first learning disabled artist to receive a major award from us.

"As I’ve got to know Larry, I’ve come to realise just how unique, engaging, creative and inspiring an individual he really is. Larry is a magnificent example of how the arts can have a fundamental and positive impact on the quality of our lives and on our personal ambitions.”

MacAree also had help from his niece Susan Hughes, being an artist herself she was the ideal family member to lend a helping hand. He recorded his thoughts and memories so Hughes could edit the non-linear autobiography in his authestic style.

Hughes said:  "Every human has a rich life worth hearing about, though very few have the support or confidence to ever publish their life story. Larry is certainly not lacking in confidence, but the support of the Chris Ledger award has made it possible to design, publish and launch his life story and fulfil his dream."

MacAree's artistic talents can be traced back to the art classes he used to attend 15 years ago which he combines with his love of history and, of course, his family and friends.

‘My Life with Them’ will be launched on Sunday, October 9th at the University of Atypical Gallery in Belfast as part of the Bounce Festival.

If you would like a copy of the book please email requests to [email protected]

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