Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.

Words of the late, great John Lennon which could encompass the beauty of art in its many forms.

For artist Stuart Semple, The Beatles vocalist and guitarist has been a go to figure.

Discussing his inspirations during an interview for to the Daily Echo’s podcast, The Echo Dispatch, the Bournemouth-born painter and sculptor said: “Different people inspire me all the time. There are ones I keep going back to.

“John Lennon is a huge inspiration, particularly in the later era when he was making with Yoko Ono, so I keep going back to that and a lot of musicians and song writers, which is kind of strange, that I kind of orbit around.

“In visual arts, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol a little bit, Sigmar Polke, but it is whole mixed bag and a lot of musicians.”

Stuart, who founded gallery GIANT in the Bobby’s building in Bournemouth town centre this year, added: “I like the words and poetry in music.

“If you listen to something like Bob Dylan, it is just an incredible lyricism that you don’t really get in painting. I feel like music affects me emotionally in a way no other art form does. It is so direct, so that is why I am obsessed with it. I always wanted to make paintings that were more like songs, or hit you like a song. I don’t think I have ever achieved that but that is the goal and I am obsessed with their process – the way they make work.

Unsurprisingly, after a brief period in his company, Stuart says he his own worst critic.

Asked if he is particularly proud of any of his artwork, he said a couple of pieces are important to him personally but “I don’t think it is great art”.

Shortly after the interview, Stuart found himself having to defend the importance of freedom of expression in his field when Bournemouth East MP called on an exhibit of painted suicide bombs vest to be removed from the gallery.

Discussing the dangers of ‘cancel culture’ on the industry, Stuart told the podcast: “It is really scary. There was going to be a Philip Guston show at the Tate that got cancelled.

“He came out of the civil rights movement in America, painted KKK, very anti that of course. He stood adamantly against it in his work but because the cancel culture and the internet and social media, the curators at the Tate pulled the show and a lot of people in the art world thought that was a very dangerous thing to do for freedom of speech.

“I am seeing it all the time and I think it comes from the audience not being so clued up about what they are looking at and there is a misunderstanding if you put something on a pedestal or put it into a gallery, you are actually celebrating that thing, that all art celebrates the subject.”

Stuart said he believes it is down to curators and galleries to help with this aspect of understanding.

On the subject of arts importance to society, he said everyone needed to appreciate why it is important and their expectations of it.

“I think it is really important but I think we have got to understand why it is important and what we expect it to do,” said Stuart.

“The problem we have is people go ‘is art more important than a frontline nurse’ and the answer is no. A frontline nurse or a school teacher is always going to be more important to society than art and no artist wants to hear me say it but that is the truth.

“But society without art is very, very boring and we get nothing to live for. We get no Netflix to watch, we get no great music videos, our magazines look rubbish, our clothes are dull and our cars are naff and that is why we need art.

“Art to me is the icing on the cake that makes our experience richer and I think that is very, very important.”

To listen to the podcast, search The Echo Dispatch on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or Google Podcasts.