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Exile Ed Williamson brushes up for life after rugby

Ed WilliamsonLondon Welsh’s abrasive back row forward Ed Williamson is developing a name for himself off the pitch  – as an artist.

His delicate and precise touch with a brush may be in   contrast to his hard-hitting style on the field, but for Williamson it is the perfect way to unwind away from the game, as well as a passion he is keen to explore as a post-rugby career.

It may not be the way you would expect a 6ft 3in 17st back rower to spend his spare time, but art is in Williamson’s blood.

His dad and his uncle were both professional artists and owned fine art shops specialising in landscapes and seascapes.

“That’s the type of art I was brought up around and that’s where the passion lies,” said Williamson.

It is only since joining Welsh this season, however, that Williamson has been inspired to explore turning his hobby into a potential career.

His ‘year off’ from the game, as he calls it – when he picked up a hand injury  playing for Newcastle Falcons in February 2011 – has clearly had a profound effect on his outlook towards his art.

“I’ve got this going over the past two or three months and it’s gathered pace quite quickly,” he said.

While happy to oblige any commissions he receives, for Williamson, seascapes and landscapes draw his eye.

“I like big scenes, big landscapes, expressive colours.  I’ve always been fascinated with sunsets – the way the light can hit clouds and create such magnificent colours. On the side, I really enjoy doing detailed pencil sketches.”

Commissions include a painting of Banbury Castle for ex-Newcastle team-mate Phil Dowson, as well as requests from various current London Welsh team-mates such as Ed Jackson, Greg Bateman and Adam Balding.

Williamson has even turned his brush to capturing Kew Gardens’ iconic Pagoda landmark, which overlooks Old Deer Park.

“There is something very relaxing about painting and drawing,” he said. “It’s good for me because I’m quite an aggressive player and it calms me down a bit. I’ve got a nice balance now with the kids, the wife, the rugby and now this. I’ve got a good weekly schedule.”

Having never previously thought of  art as a career, the idea of being able to kiss his wife off to work of a morning and drop the kids off at school before strolling down to his studio at the bottom of the garden is one that Williamson is completely at ease with.

“That sounds like dream job to me. If I can get that going then that would be a perfect career for me after rugby,” said Williamson.

For the time being, Williamson is focused on showing the form that persuaded head coach Lyn Jones to bring him to London Welsh. So far it has been a frustrating season.

A knee injury picked up in the 32-31 win over Cavalieri Prato in October sidelined Williamson for ten weeks, but now back to full fitness he is hoping the next four weeks of Amlin Challenge Cup and LV=Cup action will give him the chance to impress.

“I’ve got myself in good shape and hopefully I can get a look in now,” he said.

DAMIAN DOLAN

To see Ed’s work visit his Facebook page: Ed Williamson Artwork here.

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