John&George — Four&Sons


George is more than just John Dolan’s best friend. He is John’s inspiration and saviour. Howard Griffin Gallery’s current exhibition, John and George, pays homage to their friendship.



John Dolan, a fixture on the streets of Shoreditch in East London for the past three years, acquired George in an exchange for the price of a can of beer.

The Staffordshire bull terrier became John’s constant companion, sitting patiently next to him as John sketched streetscapes in an effort to pass his time on the streets. With George by his side, John struck up conversations with passers-by about his life and as well as his relationship with his sidekick.

John soon began to sell his drawings, and in the process, established himself as one of east London’s most recognisable artists, and now has two exhibitions and an autobiographical book under his belt.

John credits George with helping him to realise his artistic potential and enabling him to escape from a 20-year cycle of prison recidivism and homelessness. His current show, John and George—set in a room recreated to resemble the street the pair used to occupy every day—presents 700 drawings of George. It is, John says, an homage to the one thing in his life he could rely on totally.

Dolan says he uses repetition to encourage viewers to hit pause in their busy lives and take a moment to see things in a different way. The subtle variations in each drawing also document a quiet and unassuming friendship.

John and George is on show at the Howard Griffin Gallery until 17 August.
Proceeds from the exhibition are being donated to The Big Issue Foundation and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
The biography, John and George: The Dog Who Changed My Life, is available now.

Images by Marcus Peel, courtesy of Howard Griffin Gallery

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