A New Brunswick man battling homelessness and addiction has found an creative outlet to help on his road to recovery.
In Moncton, one can often see Brad Graham sitting outside in the cold on a lonely alley twisting wire into small sculptures with his hands, raw from the cold.
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“It makes me happy in the end sometimes,” said Graham, who is originally from Truro, N.S., but now lives in supportive housing at the Harvest House downtown.
For years, Graham said he has battled homelessness, addiction and mental health struggles. Formally trained as a digital artist, back in his late 20s, he said he lost his way.
“I was never a drinker until my late 20s and I had a bad breakup and that was my first homelessness and I started drinking,” he said.
Now in his early 40s, he is battling to maintain his sobriety.
Graham said that after years away from his art, he has reconnected with his creative side and is now making wire sculptures of people, animals and flowers he sells on the streets for cash.
“Back in my druggie days I used to get all messed up and walk around town and I would make them (flowers) and just give them to pretty ladies,” he said.
He now makes them to find peace and sobriety. He said busy hands lead to a calmer mind.
“The same thing that drives my addiction drives it, like, I can’t stop doing something,” said Graham, who added that the call of alcohol is at times relentless.
He said he always keeps a bag packed by his side ready to take back to the streets when the walls start closing in.
“When I first came out of being homeless for over a year I had a room and I could not adjust. Like, I would sleep on top of my covers fully clothed,” he said.
He said it may be hard for others to understand, but when you have lived in the rough it becomes a familiar place of comfort.
“I could spend 50 per cent of my time outside just because.”
He said that is where he feels most at home.
But Graham said he is determined to stay sober and to make something of his art. He is starting a web page and plans to sell his works online. An elaborate scorpion he built was recently featured in a local art exhibit. He says his work now serves as validation that he has talent and purpose.
Like one of his flowers built in the rough, he is just starting to bloom.
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