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Johnny Vegas and Emma Rodgers create flights of fancy in joint show

Actor, comedian and artist Johnny Vegas and sculptor Emma Rodgers are showcasing their work in a joint exhibition at two Liverpool venues.

Metamorphosis is being staged at both the Walker Art Gallery and Bluecoat Display Centre.

St Helens comedian Vegas originally trained in art and ceramics at the University of Middlesex. During the COVID pandemic he found solace in creativity, and three decades after he graduated, he returned to the studio following a chance encounter with Wirral-based sculptor Rodgers.

The pair have now created new works inspired by the Walker’s collections, exploring the idea of ‘metamorphosis’ – meaning a mental or physical transformation.

Vegas, who has described his return to sculpture as, ‘an unfinished part of my story’, said: “Currently, flight, faith, fear of failure and broken/tested faith, are the subjects most fluent in my work. Emotional evolution and how best I can express that in 2D or 3D forms. A thought process, be it linked to hope or fear, captured in time.

“I’ve a head full of butterflies and all of them designed with unique intentions of distraction from the task at hand. When I think to exhibit, I’m compelled to try and recreate in clay or oil what I’ve caught in my net that day… before it is once more set free to distract me from the hurried and sometimes ill-constructed expectations of normality.”

Above: Jester (Johnny Vegas), photo by Gina Hatter; Emma Rodgers and Johnny Vegas in the studio (photo) courtesy of the artists, and Emma Rodgers' Antihypnotic Journey. Photo by Gina Hatter. Top: Emma Rodgers and Johnny Vegas at the Bluecoat.

Rodgers is recognised for her animal sculptures, including the world’s largest Liver Bird comprised of giant, oversized Meccano pieces.

In Metamorphosis, her works imagine demonic creatures conveying the nightmare of broken sleep, and the escape made possible through flight.

She has also drawn inspiration from the exquisite equine paintings of George Stubbs - this August is the tercentenary of the artist's birth in Liverpool in 1724.

The show includes two-dimensional works alongside sculptures in bronze, clay and 3D printing - all with the common theme of flight.

Metamorphosis by Johnny Vegas and Emma Rodgers is at the Walker Art Gallery until March 31, 2025. A shorter selling exhibition is at Bluecoat Display Centre until June 15.


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