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Laindon artist’s pals paint him for his 65th birthday
HE may not have been blessed with the regal aura of the Queen or the Hollywood glamour of James Dean, but that hasn’t stopped artists scrambling to paint the “weathered” face of Victor Cooke.
Her Majesty may have sat for 139 official portraits, but she’s only ever got one painting to hang on her wall at a time.
Victor, on the other hand, ended up with 12 portraits of himself in celebration of his 65th birthday.
He’s such a well known character on the Basildon art scene, that when he let slip his birthday was coming up, his pals at the Basildon Eastgate Art Gallery decided to let their paint brushes mark the occasion.
Victor didn’t want to “sit” for his paintings, so instead he just handed out photographs of himself to keen colleagues. From there, he says, the idea to paint him spread like a “forest fire”.
All the “Victors” have now gone on show in the art gallery, based on the second floor of the Eastgate Shopping Centre, for visitors to enjoy.
Victor, of Newbury Side, Laindon, said: “It’s quite strange to see so many paintings of myself hanging up, but it’s nice!
“I’m not traditional portrait fodder. I would probably describe my face as lived in, or weathered.
“It’s been a fun experience, though. I got to judge the best one and hand out a small prize to the winner.”
Victor moved to Basildon in the Fifties from the Isle of Man.
He is a self-taught artist, specialising in landscapes and seascapes, like Turner and Constable.
Vin Harrop, who helped set up the Eastgate art gallery and is chairman of Essex Arts, said: “It’s not every day an artist gets the accolade of having his portrait done and by such a diverse group of painters, but Victor deserves it. Artists on the whole do not take themselves too seriously. But painting Victor, one of their number, has been a very serious matter, indeed – and rightly so!”
Although masterpieces in their own right, Victor doesn’t expect they will fetch anything in the region of the most expensive portait ever sold – The Portrait of Dr Gachet by Vincent Van Gogh, which went for a staggering $82.5million in 1990.