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Christian Furr retrospective at Williamson Art Gallery

A retrospective of the work of Heswall-born, internationally renowned artist Christian Furr will be staged at the Williamson Art Gallery this autumn.

The show, which forms part of the Wirral Borough of Culture programme, will feature a selection of pieces from across the career of the 52-year-old.

It will be the first time his works have been brought together in one exhibition.

Colin Simpson (above left with Furr), Principal Museums Officer for the Williamson, says: “We’re pleased to welcome back to Wirral an artist who has made a substantial career for himself.

"He embraces variety and diversity, often collaborating with artists with very different skills, and this mid-career retrospective will allow us all to appreciate both the range and the quality of Christian’s work to date.”

Furr says he is "over the moon to have been given the lion's share of the Williamson" for the show.

“I’m really excited," he adds. "I feel a little bit young for a retrospective but it’s a great honour to have been asked to do it.

“I have really strong memories of the Williamson. I used to bunk off school sports days and go into the gallery and look at the art! We used to just hang out there. If I’d known then I’d have an exhibition there one day it would have blown my mind."

Christian Furr was born in Wirral in 1966 and studied at St Anselm’s in Birkenhead before taking a foundation course at Wirral Metropolitan College of Fine Art. He later studied fine art at De Montfort University.

In 1995, Furr became the youngest artist to paint the Queen (below) after being commissioned by Royal Overseas League. A print of the original will be included in the exhibition.

Other of his works have been exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Society of Portrait Painters and are in the private collection at the Vatican.

In 2012 he curated the Liverpool Love exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool with proceeds going to Claire House Children’s Hospice.

In his own practice, Furr – a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts - has created an eclectic collection of work in different mediums and has been involved in art collaborations including his 2013 Staying Alive neon collection with Chris Bracey and his recent 45RPM collection with the music photographer Gered Mankowitz.

Last year he created a neon art piece in the shape of a pair of spectacles using a new nano ‘super-black’ material he initiated with Imperial College scientists in response to Anish Kapoor's Monopoly of Vantablack.

Furr/Mankowitz - Jimi Sun God

The Williamson Art Gallery exhibition charts his early interests in learning from the figurative tradition and features examples of his more recent collaborations with other artists.

Furr explains: "We’re going to get some really big things – neons and some of the giant piece I’ve done. I’ll be talking about ideas and what it’s like to be an artist and hopefully it might provide a bit of inspiration to future artists.

“I’m very much involved with making it a comprehensive exhibition. And I want it to be informative and as entertaining as possible.

“I’ve been pulling in favours from some of my clients and they have been really kind and given special paintings. It’s going to be strange to see all these things – I don’t really stop and look at what I’ve done in the past, I tend to look to the future and the work I’m doing at the time."

A new self-portrait will also be unveiled for the show.

The artist, who is also president of Wirral Met alumni and an ambassador for Wirral Borough of Culture, reveals: "It will be a quirky, slightly humorous take on the idea of a self-portrait. And it has a bit of a reference to Rembrandt in the title.”

Christian Furr: A Retrospective is at the Williamson Art Gallery from September 28 to November 24.

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