Besides the series of First World War poet portraits, I am also working on a series of portraits of ‘Super Heroes’. The first in this series was William Morris and although I had planned to work on Charles Dickens next, that plan has been changed to W. G. Grace whose 100th anniversary of his death is coming up next month on 23rd of October.
When I was growing up in Shropshire, cricket played a massive part in our family life. My Dad and my brother were both very good cricketers, playing for Wem and Acton Burnell, so every Saturday was spent going to the match, my Mum making the cricket teas (which were always very popular as there was always a lot of cake involved) and I was often volunteered to be the teams scorer – not always an easy job. Whilst a student studying art in Shrewsbury, I then worked on a series of large scale cricketing inspired paintings. So, it seems quite fitting to create a portrait of an amazingly talented cricketer.
Born in 1848 near Bristol, William Gilbert Grace was certainly part of a cricketing family (his father and brothers all played) and he believed his great skill came from hard work and lots of practise. Playing as an amateur, training as a medical practitioner in 1879, he played Marylebone Cricket Club, Gloucester and England. By the time he was 27, he had 50 first-class centuries and once Grace scored 839 runs in 3 innings in 1 week (344+177+318)! The statistics are amazing!
I have just begun his portrait and so far, I have machine stitched ‘W.G’s’ head and shoulders. I shall embellish the portrait with acrylic and further hand sewing. I haven’t quite decided how I shall tackle the background but I must admit I am really looking forward to starting his wonderful beard!