This story begins back in April when I first reported that Stephen Fry and Luke Evans had their portraits painted by Ross Watson while they were in New Zealand filming The Hobbit. Stephen plays the Master of Lake Town and Luke plays Bard in the films.
The portraits were to form part of the Ross Watson exhibition in London, so it was with some delight that I received an invitation from the Terrence Higgins Trust to the launch of the exhibition last night, as I was keen to see the pictures for myself . I also knew Sir Ian McKellen was to open the exhibition.
Full of anticipation, I walked down Redchurch Street looking for The Gallery when suddenly I found myself face to face with a print of the portrait of Stephen Fry. Knowing I’d found The Gallery, I stepped inside and was immediately greeted by the portrait itself, with its richness of colour and texture: Stephen Fry with his ipad. Stephen is a strong supporter of the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), a charity that supports people with HIV and promotes good sexual health, but he was appearing in Twelfth Night at The Globe theatre last night, so I knew he would not be able to attend the exhibition’s launch.
Moving on, I thought I would look for the portrait of Luke Evans, only to be stopped in my tracks by the sight of Sir Ian and, I must admit, my heart did skip a beat. He has become so familiar to me as Gandalf that a little of me believes I know him. Luckily, my senses returned before I made a fool of myself and reminded me that I didn’t! Sir Ian was deep in conversation, so there was no opportunity to say ‘hello’ but, just by his side, was the portrait of Luke. Luke is cleverly posed amongst card players, holding his iphone as if it were a hand of cards.
Moving on to admire the rest of the paintings I was lucky enough to catch the eye of the Ross Watson himself. I told him why I had come to see his exhibition and he seemed somewhat bemused, yet pleased, that Middle Earth should take an interest in his work. Ross is very generously donating 20% of all proceeds from the exhibition to the Terrence Higgins Trust.
I found myself standing once more by Sir Ian but he remained engrossed in conversation. Our hosts were doing a wonderful job of entertaining him.
Suddenly there was a frisson on excitement in the room and as I looked around I found myself facing Luke Evans! I waited for a few moments, while he greeted people and had his photo taken with his portrait. And then, all of a sudden, he was on his own and I called out his name and went to introduce myself. We talked for a few minutes and I was delighted to be welcomed into his Bowman family. Needless to say, by the end of it all I was quite charmed!
It was then time for Sir Ian to say a few words to launch the exhibition. It was thrilling to listen to the rich tones of his voice and, I couldn’t help but see a touch of the Gandalf’s in him. His speech rounded off this happy evening perfectly.
I would like to thank THT for hosting such a super event. I met Ross Watson, talked to Luke Evans and stood next to Sir Ian – a lot.
The Ross Watson Exhibition is on at The Gallery, Redchurch Street, London (about 10 minutes walk from Liverpool Street Station) until 7 October. Do go along if you can.