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Wirral artist Collette Collinge captures seven Liverpool icons for new exhibition

2 months ago

By Dawn Collinson

Wirral artist Collette Collinge captures seven Liverpool icons for new exhibition
Radisson RED Art exhibition

John Lennon, Cilla Black, and Gerry Marsden are among those who have been captured for the exhibition.

Wirral artist Collette Collinge has painted a series of Liverpool icons to feature in a new temporary exhibition at the Radisson RED hotel.

From hundreds of amazing possibilities, she selected just seven who represent different areas of the entertainment and celebrity world.

Collette, who usually specialises in landscapes, challenged herself to depict some of Liverpool’s most famous names.

She chose John Lennon, Cilla Black, Gerry Marsden, Ken Dodd, Pete Price, The Vivienne – plus Birkenhead-born Paul O’Grady who became synonymous with Scouse humour and warmth.

Collette Collinge's painting of John Lennon
Collette Collinge’s painting of John Lennon

The large-scale portraits are going on display at Radisson RED from this week and then Collette intends to make limited edition prints.

As a teacher for almost 25 years at schools in Liverpool and Wirral, she says when it came to creating the exhibition, she applied a lesson she always taught her pupils.

“I’m really passionate about art and I always used to say to the kids, you must stretch yourself,” she says. “So last year I thought I’d set myself a challenge to do these seven A2 portraits and I hope I’ve achieved it.”

In fact, Collette’s whole career as an artist has been about doing something new. She didn’t actually start to paint until she took early retirement from teaching aged 58.

She began by studying fashion and textiles at Liverpool Poly and had a career in that before doing post-grad training to go into teaching at 35.

“I never looked back. I’ve taught so many kids and I absolutely loved it,” she adds. “While I was working as a teacher I never did art for myself, I was so focused on making sure the kids got a fantastic experience that I didn’t have time or the energy left to do my own work. 

“I didn’t pick up a paintbrush myself until I retired, when a friend who’s a prominent artist encouraged me. From age 58 to now I’ve managed to establish a successful business and my work goes all over the world.”

Collette Collinge's painting of Paul O'Grady
Collette Collinge’s painting of Paul O’Grady

Collette describes her style as between graphic and fine art – her portraits have a graphic storyline background which makes them so distinctive.

When she began tackling the icons, she admits choosing only seven was one of the most difficult parts to start with.

“We’ve got so many talented people who come out of the Pool of Life,” she says. “Lennon was the first one I painted, then I wanted to do Pete Price because I admire him, there’s The Vivienne who’s the only one that’s done as a pop art, Ken Dodd, Cilla, Paul O’Grady and Gerry Marsden. 

“Some have a three-dimensional element, so first of all it’s the colour that hits you but then people take a second look and a third look because I like to do quirky things that tell a story.”

Collette has a concession at the Radisson RED selling some of her work – mostly mugs, mini prints and cards – to guests who love having a unique memento of the city.

You’ll Never Walk Alone, one a series of Mersey Ferries artworks, hangs in the hotel and specially commissioned giclee red prints and mugs featuring it are now sold there.

She says she’s looking forward to showcasing her icon portraits at the exhibition which launches this week. Then it’ll be back to creating new works from the studio in her garden.

“Next month I’ll get back to the easel because I’m itching to paint again,” she says, “I’ll be doing more landscapes and I’ve decided I’m going to do some based on The Beatles psychedelic period with a range of merchandise so that’s all to come.” 

For more info on Collette Collinge at Radisson RED click HERE. For the latest news in Liverpool click HERE.

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