Our talented martial artist By John Goodbody


There is a chasm between the hurly-burly of Olympic judo and the refined world of professional modern art. But it is a gap that has been successfully crossed by Neil Eckersley, who represented Britain as a bantamweight in the 1984 and 1988 Games, winning a bronze medal in Los Angeles.

Born and raised on the tough streets of Salford, Neil flourished in art at school. He says: “I grew up in a tough area, which explains why I wanted to look after myself, but the art came from a need to express myself and give an outlet for my creative urges. I have always had a problem with the written word because of dyslexia but found painting to be the perfect way to express emotions and things that I wanted to put across. There are not the constraints of the written word.”


Painting also helped him recover from the sudden loss of his elder brother. “It was part of my recuperation. Subsequently, I took it more seriously and began selling
my work.” After retiring from competitive judo following the Seoul Games, Neil worked in engineering and then in residential and social care, latterly for the Cumbria local authority
and used art to help people express their thoughts. He was also the junior national men’s coach for six years and is on the Schools Commission of the British Judo Association,
the governing body.

He says: “I still travel quite extensively with martial arts and always have an eye on interesting new subjects to represent in my abstract work. It’s an exciting area to explore and requires a different kind of discipline – but it’s something that I really enjoy and in which I am getting a fair bit of interest.”

A portfolio of new works has been showcased on the Saatchi online collection of paintings by up-and-coming artists. Neil’s latest works feature the New York skyline and these, plus many of his other paintings can be viewed (and indeed bought!) via his website: www.neileckersleyart.co.uk.

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