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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 15:28 GMT
Upset over Lenkiewicz supplement
Robert Lenkiewicz
The artist's parents were Jewish refugees from Germany and Poland
A Big Issue office has been inundated with enquiries about a supplement featuring the work of a Devon artist.

It has been published to coincide with an exhibition of the late Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz at the Halcyon Gallery in London.

Big Issue readers in the South West said they were disappointed the supplement was only available in the London edition of the magazine.

The 60-year-old artist died in August 2002, leaving debts of about 1m.

Robert Lenkiewicz's parents were Jewish refugees from Germany and Poland who used to set up hostel-type accommodation for the elderly and homeless.

I'll try to get Big Issue to do something to remedy it
Paul Green, Halcyon Gallery

Lenkiewicz attracted constant publicity. During the 1960s, he completed a vagrancy study of the lives of tramps in Plymouth and London.

It formed part of a "Relationship Series" which also included paintings studying subjects including old age, mental handicap, suicide and local education.

In 1984, he caused a storm of controversy when he embalmed the dead body of his friend Edwin McKenzie - a tramp known as Diogenes.

It was done at the tramp's request and Lenkiewicz refused Plymouth City Council's demand to release the body for a proper burial.

Edwin "Diogenes" McKenzie
Diogenes asked Lenkiewicz to embalm him when he died

It was discovered in a drawer in Lenkiewicz's Barbican studio two months after his death.

The Halcyon Gallery's president said the vagrancy series was among Lenkiewicz's most serious work and, by linking up with the Big Issue, it brought a greater awareness of the issue.

Paul Green said he would contact the Big Issue to see if the supplement could be made more widely available.

He told BBC News Lenkiewicz had always been underrated.

"Quite frankly there should be a museum dedicated to him, or Plymouth City Museum should build a wing for some of his works," he said.

"I didn't know the supplement was only available in the London edition, but I'll try to get Big Issue to do something to remedy it."


SEE ALSO
Record bid for artist's work
18 Sep 03 |  Devon

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