Autistic Artist Captures Suffolk Town in Gorgeous New Paintings


This month, a talented local artist will exhibit works showcasing the wonder and beauty of some of our county’s most picturesque towns and cities.

David Downes currently lives in Manningtree, but spent his formative years in Suffolk.

Diagnosed with high-functioning autism at the age of 32, he has been immersed in the arts for most of his life, tracing his passion back to his early childhood.

“I’ve been drawing since I was about four years old. Before I could communicate properly, I mainly drew with markers and pens before I started painting when I was 20. Art used to be my way of communicating, and now it’s my full-time job on top of being a dad,” he says.

David’s talents have taken him all over the world to study and exhibit, including Brighton, London and California.

In 2012 he was commissioned by the Savoy Hotel to paint the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant from the roof, which can be seen in the hotel lobby, and in 2019 he was selected by ITV to paint a public mural for the launch of period drama Sanditon.

After returning to the area a few years ago, David rediscovered his favorite places and soon began sketching and painting towns such as Hadleigh, Kersey, Dunwich and the River Brett.

Working from Ardleigh Studios, he says: “I grew up in Eye and have always drawn Suffolk. As a child, I also drew cities and imaginary places. Later in life my family and I moved back to Suffolk, and when I took my daughter to swimming lessons in Hadleigh every week I thought how beautiful the town was and what a lovely place it was to paint and have an exhibition. the.”

He cites his favorite landmark as the Dean’s Tower of Hadleigh – a 15th-century brick structure that was originally the gateway to the Archdeacon’s house.

“It’s such an unusual structure. Many of the buildings in Hadleigh in particular are unique, and you also have the church and the graveyard.

David visited Hadleigh several times while sketching his works, also capturing its main street using pen, paper and paint.

His landscape scenes became known for their dramatic skies (perhaps a nod to Constable’s work) and bold use of color, and are so revered locally that he was previously resident artist at Snape Maltings, painting over 40 landscapes and seascapes. parts during his stay there.

His next exhibition, ‘Visions of Suffolk: Town & Country – New Paintings’, at Hadleigh Old School has just opened and will run until Sunday 16 October.

“It’s always exciting to have another exhibition in a new location, and I’m really excited to see what the people of Hadleigh think of my art. I hope they feel positive about it and like what they see.

To find out more about David, visit He can also be found on Instagram at


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