This wasn't the way I had anticipated starting the New Year posts but life chooses for you.
In theory it can only get better and I hope to write about that soon.
This morning, like many of us I awoke to the news of the death of
My immediate thoughts went to the artist George Underwood.
I have spoken of George many times, and will do again.
George is one of the galleries best selling artists, more importantly he has become a friend.
But when it comes to friends he has had one important and enduring friendship throughout his life,
That has been with his mate David Bowie, friends since the age of 9 years old.
On my visits to see George he rarely mentions David, and on most occasions it is myself who instigates the conversation.
As a result I have learned that they have been life long "true" friends.
The painting above I have shown you once in the past, now I will tell you why.
On one occasion I had made plans to visit George to collect some new art for the gallery.
He asked me when I would arrive because he had plans for the afternoon.
It was his birthday.
I offered to visit another time but he insisted that I come.
So, understanding it was an important day I took him a little present for his birthday.
He was very appreciative that I had bothered, and I admit that I was pleased that I had thought to do so.
But, I will cut a very long story short and move on to my departure.
Just before I departed the doorbell rang, it was a courier with a large parcel.
It contained a Hamper from David Bowie.
I have since learnt that one would arrive on every birthday.
Since that day I have often visited near the time of George's birthday and over coffee he will ask
"do you want some lovely biscuits or a nice piece of cake, they are from David"?
Could I say no?
On another visit I was looking around George's the studio in the anticipation of bringing something home with me [for the gallery].
George is a very shy, open and modest artist, he never "pushes" his art towards you,
So I had rarely dared to ask for some work as I feared he didn't want me to have it.
The result of this is that I have on occasions lost out on paintings that I could have taken because he thought I had no interest.
I think because we are both too shy.
As a result my motto became "If I don't ask I won't get".
So on subsequent visits I have asked for everything.
On one of those visits there was a beautiful painting of a figure on a horse, framed and propped against a wall.
Pushing my luck I asked "Could I have that"?
He told me "no, it is sold, well actually it is going to David".
David being his friend David Bowie.
It came about because for David's birthday George had sent him a betting slip for a horse race
The odds on the horse were 100-1.
George explained "what could I send him that he hasn't got"?
The result? The horse lost [of course] but Bowie did contact George and explained that although the "nag" had lost it was a thoughtful present as he had an interest in horses.
He asked George would he create a painting of a horse for him?
The result is the painting at the top of this post.
So the painting did not come to the gallery it went to a more important home.
However, George did agree to send me a limited edition print of the painting.
From memory I think that hung in the gallery for 2 days before selling.
It was thinking of this today I remembered how important it was for them both not to let a birthday
pass and be forgotten.
In fact, just a couple of days ago I was wondering what George had sent David for this birthday.
Of course it was to be the last birthday of the great artist
My thoughts today were for George.
This evening I made a call to another artist and friend [also a friend to George].
This is Terry Pastor.
The artist acknowledged for creating the Ziggy Stardust album cover.
I was not surprised that the call was unanswered [the line was busy].
Later I had a call back from Terry's wife.
" Terry said you might call John. He is not here at the moment but if you turn on the TV he is being interviewed on the news as we speak.......................".
A sad day for everyone.
Above are the different artworks by George and Terry.
George named the horseman painting
The White Rider