Chris Stonor looks at two well known faces who are swapping cricket bats and treading the boards for a paintbrush.
Brighton-based actor Chris Ellison is best known for his role as DCI Frank Burnside in TVs ‘The Bill’.
He primarily plays tough guys and stars in a new gangster film ‘We Still Kill The Old Way’.
Chris Ellison is a ‘proper’ artist. He attended both Wimbledon and Camberwell art schools and was a sculptor and painter before acting lured him away.
An appearance on ‘The Sweeney’ in 1975 gave him his big break but in recent years Chris has returned to painting because, as he admits: “I’ve got to an age when TV work dries up.”
Chris is a capable painter.
“I am not a Sunday afternoon dauber,” he confirms. “Once I get going I work damn hard and can paint for 12 hours without a break.”
He is also prolific. When the muse takes hold, he can complete one new canvas a week.
Chris’ love is painting portraits – boxer Ricky Hatton is one of his better known subjects – but it is nature that now enchants him.
“I love painting rocks and dead trees. They’re not dead to me. They are alive,” he enthuses.
“I love man-made sea defences too, like the ones at Rottingdean. Those huge boulders that go out to sea… the colours are amazing.” he smiles.
“People say a piece of granite comes through all my work.”
He has a studio in Ovingdean and uses photographs as a guide.
“I saw this dead tree in Cuckmere Valley. I was mesmerised by it,” Chris says. “I have painted it four times and each picture looks different.”
This leads me to ask as to whether Chris paints when on location?
“No, I draw instead,” he reveals. “I began drawing from an early age. I later trained as a draughtsman.
“I am famous for doodling over my scripts. When playing ‘Magwitch’ last year in Dickens ‘Great Expectations’ I covered the script with doodles of Dickensian characters.
“They were photographed and published in the theatre programme.”
He adds: “Drawing gets me through to the next show.”
Chris Ellison’s paintings sell for between £1,250 and £1,950.
To purchase his art contact the Brighton ‘Honeysett Gallery’ by calling 01273 789411 or 0776 830 8001.
Phil Tufnell is a man of many talents – former international cricketer, telly supremo, book writer, radio broadcaster, game-show winner and now an artist with a penchant for feline whimsy.
“I’ve been interested in art since a boy,” he admits. “It was the one ‘O’ level I passed as it was the only exam I bothered turning up to,” he adds with one of his cheeky grins. As a trained silversmith, artistry is a part of Phil’s psyche.
“I took a sketch-pad on cricket tours, did some doodles, but it was never serious,” he continues.
“Then, a while back my wife Dawn and I visited Brighton and came across an art gallery.
“We bought some pictures. I told her I used to dabble a bit and she encouraged me to paint again.”
On their next visit Phil set up an easel while Dawn went shopping in The Lanes.
“I began splashing around and six hours later she returned and I was still painting,” says Phil, who is ambidextrous but paints with his left-hand.
“The picture was of a big orange sun. When I completed the image, it was an ‘oh my God’ moment for both of us.”
A few days later, musician ‘Fat Boy Slim’, entered the gallery, saw Phil’s painting, loved it and bought the picture on the spot. Phil hasn’t looked back since.
“I have a hectic media schedule and art helps me cope with the stress,” he says. “I can get totally engrossed, forget all my worries, and above all enjoy myself.”
Phil’s latest exhibition is entitled ‘The Cats’, inspired by his nickname. There are 14 pictures in the series with a similar cat motif central to each one.
The eyes represent cricket balls and each image is a different aspect of Phil’s personality.
The series is more structured than his previous abstract works.
Four originals at £1,950 each have sold including one to ‘Deutsche Bank’, while the prints are limited to 195 per picture and sell for £195. To date around 40 have sold.
Phil’s favourite artist is Banksy and on a sunny day the former cricketer may work outside the Brighton gallery with his spray cans and paints, much to the surprise of passers-by. His art philosophy is ‘the bolder the better’.
So is he happy with the ‘Cats’ series?
“Yes. They are jolly, fun and colourful,” he says, adding with another grin: ”Like me!”
There is a series planned for the summer called ‘Catastrophic’ and Phil’s merchandising
company ‘Tuff Cat’ sells motif T-shirts.
To purchase Phil’s art contact Stephen Turner at www.turnerfinearts.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 241 8608
Chris Stonor writes on an array of subjects from sports and celebrity to business, natural health and antiques.
Read his cricket blog affiliated to the ‘Unofficial Sussex CCC Forum’ at http://unofficialsussexccc.freeforums.net/thread/3/softandfluffys-wicked-cricket-blog
January 30, 2015 Culture and Events