An Ancoats-based artist has set social media alight with his portrait of Tom Daley created from homophobic tweets the diver received after coming out as gay.
Conor Collins’ depiction of Daley has been shared across the globe and retweeted by Stephen Fry and the Olympian himself.
The portrait is made up of handwritten messages compiled from thousands of anti-gay tweets that surfaced on the social media site after Daley, 19, took to YouTube to announce that he was in a relationship with a man.
— Conor Collins (@conartworks) April 17, 2014
Conor, 24, told MM: “What spoke to me was [Tom’s] bravery. For him to take charge and be open and honest about his life was brave and inspiring to many.
“Coming out is hard, very hard, and for some it seems impossible.
“I hate bullies, and homophobia is just another form of bullying. The problem is, homophobia is often just seen as a hateful comment on a placard or in the writings of certain right-wing newspapers. But it’s everywhere.”
Trawling through cruel messages spewed from twitter trolls was a draining experience for Collins who himself identifies as homosexual.
He explained: “To see the amount of hate directed at him boiled my blood. When you hate him for being gay, you hate me for being gay.”
When asked how it feels to receive all this unexpected attention for his work Collin’s said: “I was barely expecting 30 retweets let alone 3500! It’s very flattering and I am really moved.
“It’s all rather overwhelming, but flattering, I still can’t get my head round it.
“Part of me still thinks this will be revealed as a grand psychological experiment by Derren Brown!”
When discussing how it feels to have received acknowledgement from national treasure Stephen Fry and Splash star, Conor said: “I would be a lying if I said it was anything other than wonderful. Utterly wonderful.
“I am a huge fan of Stephen Fry and the work he does and for Tom Daley, the inspiration behind it, to also like it is very touching.”
Conor has captured the likeness of an eclectic mix of famous faces including Jack Nicholson, Patrick Stewart and Vladimir Putin using an unusual mix of materials, including coffee beans and glow-in-the-dark paint.
When looking to the future, the artist said: “I’ll keep doing as I am doing. Painting, painting and painting! Though hopefully through this I can have the chance to do some work that will benefit people in need.”
Featured picture courtesy of Seathwood, with thanks