‘Grime gran’ artist is a big hit with Stormzy

Stormzy is not the only grime star Ms Hiller has painted


Cockfosters grandma Gayle Hiller might not look like your average grime fan. But having taken up painting as a means to bond with her grandson, she has just sold one of her works to a representative of Stormzy, her favourite grime star.

The portrait was her daughter’s idea. “I really like him and his music,” she said. “At first my children were like, ‘it looks nothing like him’, but when I was finished they said it was really good.”

Through a friend, her painting was displayed at the Secret Café in Islington, where it caught the eye of the director of Stormzy’s latest video.

“It was sheer luck. I got a call from the café explaining that someone from his team had seen my painting and wanted to buy it and give it to him.

“I couldn’t believe it. He is the hottest thing out there right now. You can’t pick up a paper without him being in it.

“They even said they wanted me to be in his latest video and present the painting to him as part of it.”

Sadly for Ms Hiller, the video appearance did not happen but the director bought the portrait for £100.

“I wanted more but the café owner convinced me it was great for my work.” It is her first painting to be owned by anyone other than family and friends.

Ms Hiller, who is in her late 40s, raised her three children on her own. She said she had found life hard after they had left home.

“I suffered with mental health problems and worried about what I was going to do with my life.

“Painting helped me with that. I find it therapeutic.

“To think that at my age I can do something like that and a guy like him would want my painting is amazing.

“It shows that no matter your age, there is no limit to your potential.”

Her children were “over the moon” at the sale to Stormzy.

“My daughter Amanda loves him. She was jumping up and down — she couldn’t believe it.” Stormzy is not the only grime star Ms Hiller has painted.

“I’ve done Wretch 32 and the US rapper, Tupac.

“I’m really interested in people, music and culture. People say I have master strokes and my technique is unique. I’ve gone from not knowing what to do to finding something I’m good at.

“It feels great.”

She does have another musical connection. Her father Tony co-wrote the Eurovision-winning Save Your Kisses For Me for Brotherhood of Man.

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