A BOY who was left with a severe brain injury caused by a road accident grew up to become a successful artist.

Olly Coulson is presenting an exhibition entitled Through Olly’s Eyes – which features mermaids, portraits, landscapes, sunsets and local attractions – at the Allen Gallery in Alton from Saturday until March 27.

This would be impressive under normal circumstances, but even more so after what took place when Olly was an eight-year-old living in Holland in 1993.

He was knocked off his bike in a road accident and spent six weeks in a coma – the start of a year in hospital where he had to relearn everything, including eating, walking and talking.

Despite all this rehabilitation, a full recovery was impossible. Olly said: “It has left me with physical difficulties that include not being able to write and paint with my dominant right hand, not being able to walk properly, and mental and emotional issues.”

In 1999, when he was 14, Olly’s family moved to Four Marks and he was able to attend Treloar’s school and college in Holybourne.

Olly said: “My passion for art started at Treloar’s and has been further enhanced by being an active member of Creative Response, Artscape, Art Venture, Art Invisible and Outside In.

“I have had pieces exhibited at the Flora Twort Gallery, Fabrica, Pallant House and Piano Noble Gallery, in conjunction with Outside In.

“I have really developed a love of creating Mer-people – mermaids and mermen – portraits and scenic landscapes, and using driftwood, sweet wrappers and other recycled materials.

“I have also recreated some of this art on T-shirts, mugs and tea towels, and have even had one piece transformed into a deckchair!”

The wide variety of media used by Olly also includes traditional paint and canvas, fabrics and even M&M sweets.

Olly’s father John Coulson said: “While we still live in Four Marks, Olly is now in a carer-assisted flat in Petersfield and his affection for art has grown. He is now an ambassador for the Outside In arts charity and volunteers three days a week at Hewitt’s Art Centre and Community Hub in Emsworth.

“He was one of 80 – from 800 – that were selected to exhibit at the Piano Noble Gallery and judged by celebrity artist Grayson Perry.”

Before the exhibition opens to the public, a private viewing event for around 30 invited guests will be held at the Church Street gallery this evening (Friday).

The public exhibition is open from 10.30am-3.30pm. The gallery is shut on Mondays and Wednesdays.