James is the painting star of V Festival

James Wilkinson

James Wilkinson

First published in News

WHILE most of the crowd watching Olly Murs at last year’s V Festival were singing or dancing, there was one notable exception.

James Wilkinson, the festival’s officially appointed artist, was at the side of the stage busily sketching the scene and taking photographs.

For the father-of-five from Witham, this month’s public exhibition, V-Motions, is the product of 11 months of hard work.

Former city investment banker James, 47, was approached by festival organisers about the project last year.

He said: “I’m artist in residence at Hylands House and I have done portrait paintings of many musicians so it was a good match.

“The remit was really to put together the emotions of the V Festival, reflecting not just the performers but also the audience.”

To achieve this, James has created pictures within pictures – a portrait of a headline act comprised of smaller paintings of members of the audience.

James said: “I spent more time on stage than any other artist at the festival.

“I was sketching on stage and taking photographs, and from there I came back and created four main stage images.”

The paintings feature four of last year’s main performers, Noel Gallagher, James Morrison, Tom Jones, Tinie Tempah and Witham’s Olly Murs.

James said: “Everybody asked me what it was like painting in front of 100,000 people, but it was the friends and family of the artists looking over my shoulder that was the most nerve-wracking thing.

“That was pretty daunting – it was 80 degrees that weekend so I was already perspiring a lot anyway!”

The products of James’ hard work, which also includes backstage portraits of the likes of Snow Patrol and the Happy Mondays, will finally go on display this month.

James said: “It has taken 11 months to get this together, but each portrait contains about 30 or 40 smaller portraits of the audience.

“The Olly Murs one contains about 50 portraits – if you were stood in the front row for any of the acts you are probably in it.”

James’ V-Motions paintings will be on display at The Bar, in Kings Head Walk, Chelmsford, on Thursday, July 18, from 6pm.

For more information, visit paintpop.com

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