This film is part of Free

Robert Lenkiewicz and Vagrancy

Lenkiewicz takes people in with his exceptional art.

News 1973 1 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Artist Robert Lenkiewicz depicts the nature of the homeless in a lifelong project. The Vagrancy exhibition culminates in the unveiling of a body of artwork portraying down and outs and highlighting their plight to society. His drawings and paintings, and the personal observations of the vagrants became known as a Project and he would return to the theme of social isolation during his lifetime. The Lenkiewicz Foundation celebrates the artist's works.

Lenkiewicz was born the son of German Polish refugees in London in 1941 and they ran a Jewish guesthouse called Hotel Shem-tov. He painted and listened to the stories of the elderly residents and his fascination with the human condition grew, forming the subject for his early works. It was while studying at the Royal Academy of Arts that he opened his studio to vagrants, criminals and the mentally unstable, committing their faces to canvas, often on a large scale. In 1965 Lenkiewicz moved to Plymouth and attracted many down and out characters, housing them at any one of nine warehouses around the city known as the Cowboy’s Holiday Inns. These characters are the subject of his first major Project, Vagrancy.