Bard’s characters brought to life on canvas at Battle gallery

Artist John Link and fan Dame Judi Dench
Artist John Link and fan Dame Judi Dench

IN YET another coup for Battle, Saffron Gallery will welcome guest artist John Link to the fold as part of the gallery’s autumn exhibition.

Link has a growing reputation among collectors, including some of the UK’s best known figures, for his unique Shakespeare-inspired paintings.

Now working out of his studio in Brighton, he is preparing for a major exhibition at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London in April 2014 as part of its celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary.

This will be followed by a further show at The Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.

Link has a lifetime’s experience of Shakespeare, having worked for 45 years as an actor and TV and theatre director with a particular interest in the playwright’s work - an interest that he has now transferred from live production to works on canvas.

Curator and art historian Mary Goody writes: “He knows them (the characters) in the singular way an actor knows, becomes, his character.

“Rarely does someone painting come at what they paint in such a thoroughly embodied way.

“Self-portraits aside, it is a unique perspective – he has lived, breathed, walked, cried, laughed and spoken them, after all.”

Many of Link’s works have been acquired by well-known figures in the world of show business.

Dame Judi Dench said: “I have been a fan of John Link’s work from the moment I first saw it.

“The paintings are bright and colourful, which I love, and although the portraits do not look like any particular actor, you know immediately which character is being portrayed, and you know there is a story in there somewhere.”

His work has also been bought by collectors with no particular connection with, or even knowledge of, Shakespeare.

As Link suggests, this is because Shakespeare’s subject – essentially that of the human condition – is eternally relevant.

Link shows us characters, people, musing on the nature of existence, edging towards some momentary insight, their life’s experience etched into their faces.

Says Link: “I am absorbed by the landscape of the face. In some particular way, faces reflect the human journey and, as rooms have ghosts so, too, do faces.”

Links paintings can now been seen at Saffron, where their continually changing Autumn Exhibition runs until November 21. Details from www.SaffronGallery.co.uk, call 01424 772 130 or email info@saffrongallery.co.uk. Gallery open 10am-5pm Mon-Sat.