He had his whole life ahead of him. But he ended up on the streets, brawling, dealing and sleeping in wheelie bins. How did he turn his life around? And why does he paint cartoon characters?

Ed Worley stares at the cartoon characters mounted on gallery walls. Here’s Mickey Mouse, there’s Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny, to the left Charlie Brown, to the right a Smurf. They are beautifully painted – clean, sharp, luminous. But there’s something going on here. Take Bugs Bunny. There’s not one bunny, there are multiple bunnies. Identical images tumble over each other, crash into each other, poke through each other, and hang upside down at impossible angles.

Look at them long enough and they turn into abstracts. Bugsy’s open mouth becomes a strawberry floating in space. The paintings couldn’t be more obvious or joyful, yet when you focus they become confusing, claustrophobic, trippy – cartoon Bridget Rileys. “This was the inside of my head,” says Worley, who paints under the name Opake. “I lived in an insane environment. The insanity in my head. Psychosis daily.”

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