The artist Lee Hadwin claims that he paints only when he is asleep and has no artistic talent when he is awake.

A dailymail article about his gallery opening:

An artist who has no artistic ability while awake but can create masterpieces in his sleep has turned a gallery in a 'bedroom' for his first solo exhibition.

An interview for the BBC.

Is this true?

  • There is footage of him drawing, such as youtube.com/watch?v=LBMBT5rG01I. What I find dubious is that the only lighting in that video is that provided by the camera. Would he otherwise draw in the dark...? That would be even more remarkable.
    – Saibot
    Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


The arguments proving his mettle as an artist when sleeping (2013) are the best proof against his skills, which is flimsy proof, but the best we have.

If is was doing a scam then I would be a lot more rich than I am.

Not necessarily. Scams can be done which are not profitable. In fact, Lee Hadwin is known to have sold some of his pieces for six figures (in 2011), something that many professional artists fail to do. This is a very odd statement years after selling a piece for six figures.

If I was pretending I could not draw while awake when I really could then I would have gone to art college to develop the gift.

You might have gone to art college, but you might not. There are plenty of people who can draw at your level who have never set foot in an art college. It takes years of practice, which might have been obtained awake or asleep.

The biggest thing I've had to prove was that I could not draw while awake. But how can you really prove something like that?

You can't. This is the key. You can prove you saw something happen, but you can't prove this kind of negative.

One interesting tidbit from this article published in 2011.

Experts at the Edinburgh Sleep Center can not determine what stage of sleep Hadwin is in when he draws.

Which might mean many things, like a new stage of sleep has been discovered, or he's not asleep at all (or, if you read on, that they can't tell because he didn't visit the Sleep Center).

More interesting is that his personal website references the "Edinburgh Sleep Clinic"

... has been described by the Art world and the Edinburgh Sleep Clinic as “UNIQUE”.

Which is inconsistent in the naming of the sleep center.

The actual name of the facility in Edinburg is "The Edinburgh Sleep Centre" and the first reference to Lee Hadwin in a non-art context tells a much different story: he is "to be tested" in 2014, and that Edinburg's clinic pronounced his story "UNIQUE".

So it seems that Lee has been passing off an past pronouncement of his story as a diagnosis of his condition which is consistent with a person who's lying.

Finally, as mentioned by trustpsychology.com, his profession is a nurse. With improved exposure to the medical field, he has a better understanding of poor sleeping symptoms; making a higher fidelity ruse possible.

What confuses me is the insistence that he can't even sketch. Everyone has artistic ability, it is just not developed in most. In every one of his articles he is emphatic that he can't even "do a simple sketch" when awake. I find this highly suspect, as an awful sketch is achievable by anyone that can move a pencil over paper. Inability to achieve that would be worthy of a news article in itself.

Finally, I've yet to see any research paper on a "new sleep state" emerge from Edinburgh directly. Considering the amount of press the artist managed to create, any validation of the findings would probably create a small sensation in the Science world too. I imagine that the primary reason for no such press releases has to do with the possibility that he's still not visited the facility.

It is most likely he's a hoax.

  • 1
    I agree with your assesment but "do a simple sketch" could very well imply a level of quality he associates with a sketch. I think he has enough speaking against him, that we shouldn't pick apart his word choice. Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 15:59
  • 1
    His word choice was (arguably) the means by which the sleep clinic was converted from commenting on his story to commenting on his condition. He's obviously using "can't even do a simple sketch" to illustrate lack of ability, but even children can do a simple sketch. You are reading in what he desires, "can't even do a quality sketch" but that's not what he's saying. Yes, I'm harsh. He's defrauded at least one person out of six figures.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 14:48
  • 3
    As it stands this is the kind of theoretical answer this site doesn't usually accept. Some of the theorising is weak - e.g. the over-literal interpretation of 'could not draw': he also says "My art whilst I’m awake is – well it’s not art let’s leave it at that!! It’s laughable!", and there's much more to being able to draw than simple manual ability - e.g. conceiving of the idea, and completing the sketch without losing focus, overthinking, getting frustrated, etc. Also you haven't mentioned any of the testing done on him as part of the documentaries about him by Fuji TV (Japan) and ITV (UK) Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 18:46
  • A layman can test what he doesn't understand and come away with a proof for that which isn't valid. This is how we "empirically" determined that heavy objects fell faster for centuries. I want to find one research paper commenting on him, or one statement by the clinic about personally observing him. The clinic hasn't seen him, according to every bit of information available, and yet he still twists their comment on his story to be a comment on his condition. In short, why is there nobody with stronger credentials than a television producer vouching for him?
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 3:40

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