A MAN used to lifting gargantuan weights has proved he also has a delicate touch.

Former bodybuilder John Parker has put down his dumbbells and picked up a set of paintbrushes – and now has several of his works on display in historic Towneley Hall, Burnley.

John Parker, who also runs Central Gym in Burnley, has around 30 watercolour pieces in an exhibition at the iconic museum in the town.

The 63-year-old had always been into drawing and painting as a child but did not start painting with watercolour until the late 1990s, after his bodybuilding career.

With his contest weight as 16 stone and 8lbs, Mr Parker won his first show in 1981 in Pendle and went onto finish sixth in the Mr British Bodybuilding championships, which led him being able to qualify for the Mr Universe title.

Sadly with several commitments, including looking after two young children, Mr Parker could not afford to perform.

When he retired in 1999, he rediscovered his love for painting.

Mr Parker said: “When people look at me they don’t think that I can paint.

“I suppose I don’t look like other painters.

“But I love it, I always have loved it but I put it on the back burner when I did my bodybuilding.”

Mr Parker’s works include portraits and landscapes of views in East Lancashire and from across the world, including many countries in Europe.

Mr Parker said: “I love painting but it is very difficult.

“I can spend hours on a painting and then ruin it right at the end with one stroke of a brush.

“But I really like sitting down and painting.

“I’ve had my works in a few galleries in the past but I’ve always wanted to get it into Towneley Hall and now I have.

“I’ve been down a few times and people have come up to me to have a chat about the work.”

The work will be on show at the gallery until September.