An international artist has spoken of the power of art in healing from addiction.
In an event at Lifewise Rotorua today, Jean-Marc Calvet, 51, who has featured in a documentary about his life, said being able to share his paintings was why he didn't have to think twice about being invited to New Zealand.
"If my experiences help just even one teenager it's not possible for me to say no."
Born in France Mr Calvet lives in Nicaragua, and exhibits all around the world.
At the event Mr Calvet told those gathered about his past, including drug addiction, and association with gangs and violence from a young age.
Painting had come to him in a "moment, a switch" as he was at a low point in his life.
"It was the first time I felt good about myself."
For him, painting is cathartic.
"They are tools for going inside [himself] deep very day inside and find why some demons take a place inside my head . . . painting is my tool for me to begin to understand why [I] am here."
He said he felt a connection with New Zealanders, especially Maori.
"There is something very magical for me. . . when I went to Whakatane I said 'wow'. I meet real people. You know, I was a street kid, for many years my life was violence, nothing beautiful. But in the eyes of these people I feel beautiful, this is a rare thing, a rare people."
Haehaetu Barrett, service manager of Lifewise Rotorua, said having Mr Calvet visit was an "encounter meant to happen".
Lifewise Rotorua have an art project, Patua Te Whakamaa, an idea started by its creative therapist Chanz Mikaere and Ms Barrett.
"It is courage and hope in a canvas, people see themselves for themselves," Ms Barrett said.
Ms Mikaere said residents painted three canvases, of their past, present and future.
'It's a chance to express your story. Everyone has a unique journey, and art provides a creative outlet," Ms Mikaere said.
Ms Barrett said several Lifewise residents would share and work with Mr Calvet in an art session.
"They are quite nervous [to share their stories], it brings out the emotions."
As part of his tour around New Zealand Mr Calvet had participated in events in Auckland, Whakatane, Taneatua and Napier.