From today, January 10, until Saturday January 21, Trinity Theatre will host a new exhibition celebrating the work and influences of the late David Bowie. Entitled Bowie: Inner Circle it will feature the work of local artist Guy Portelli and also that of painter Chris Myers who both celebrate the legacy and cultural impact of this iconic musician in their respective sculptures and paintings. Eileen Leahy finds out more…
Did you know that David Bowie’s parents met here in Tunbridge Wells? According to local historians the musician’s mum and dad went on a date to the now defunct Ritz Cinema – which was located just a stone’s throw from Trinity Theatre in the 1940s – and the rest, as they say, is history.
And now Trinity is showcasing a special exhibition in honour of the late great musician whose hits include Life on Mars, Fashion and Let’s Dance and enjoyed success in every decade until his death in 2016.
Entitled Starman: Inner Space it features the work of local artist Guy Portelli and painter
The exhibition coincides with the anniversary of Bowie’s birth, January 8 and his death, January 10 and includes paintings and sculptures centred around the music and artists that inspired Bowie, from Jimi Hendrix and Elton John to Bob Dylan.
“Central to the show is Guy Portelli’s sculpture, Starman: Inner Space,” explains a Trinity spokesperson.
“It features 76 handprints of people who worked with David Bowie. These include those of legendary musicians Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Goldie, Nile Rodgers and even John Lennon.”
The piece was originally created as part of The Forum’s 30th anniversary last year. The team at the iconic music venue on The Common commissioned Guy to make a special sculpture in order to mark the extraordinary life and exceptional artistry of David Bowie.
The mosaic masterpiece was unveiled the day before the venue’s annual tribute concert on January 6 and sat in situ at The Forum until March 2023.
Since then it has toured a number of different museums, galleries and venues so Bowie fans around the globe could see it up close.
Commenting on the event last year Guy, a Tonbridge-based artist, who found fame on the BBC1’s Dragons Den in 2008, told the Times that his work tended to be centred around ‘the crossover between art and music’.
In addition to his Bowie sculpture, Guy will be exhibiting other music-related pieces including works inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Prince.
He explained that his Starman sculpture had taken three years to complete and that it is a very personal piece.
“People who worked with or knew Bowie donated their handprints to the project,”
“Among those featured are guitarists Nile Rodgers and Peter Frampton, music producers Brian Eno and Tony Visconti, singers Neil Tennant and Goldie, as well as lots of artists, directors, old friends – and even some reclusive ex-girlfriends.”
The giant mosaic is made up of 69 handprints, marking the age Bowie was when he died.
“It’s taken three years of work to track all these people down and then make this,” added Guy, who is also known as ‘sculptor to the rock stars’ courtesy of pieces he has made for Ringo Starr and Robbie Williams.
Guy was assisted by local Bowie expert and author Tom Hagler to get each of the 69 different handprints commissioned. All of the participants, he says, were delighted to help in order to ‘retain fond memories of the singer’.
Guy will be leading some mosaic workshops during the exhibition and will also be working on a new Beatles mosaic.
Alongside Guy’s work, there will also be eight ‘music-related’ paintings by fellow local artist Chris Myers who is currently the President of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.
“The Wadhurst-based painter will be exhibiting a number of music-related works which capture the essence of David Bowie and compliment the sculptures in technique and interpretation,” adds the Trinity spokesperson.
For more information on Guy Portelli’s work visit portelli-sculptor.co.uk. Exhibition details at trinitytheatre.net/events/bowie-inner-circle