ARTIST Guy James Whitworth is making waves in the Sydney art scene, but his career began in a Northumberland village.
The Australian-based painter has been hailed as one of the most promising artists of the moment with his neon-coloured portraits.
But despite settling on the other side of the world, he says he still draws inspiration from his North East home.
“I used to try to get back every other year, but work keeps me too busy, and I haven’t been back now for nearly six years,” said Guy, who’s about to open his second solo show on the other side of the globe.
“I’m long overdue to visit. I still have sisters in the area and definitely need a catch-up with them. I love coming back to Northumberland, refreshing my Geordie accent and showing off the tan.”
Guy was raised in an unassuming three-bed semi in Stakeford but always knew he was destined for a more bohemian lifestyle. “While I was growing up I was sure of two things; I wanted to travel and I wanted to be an artist,” said the 43-year-old.
“I was always arty, always making, painting and designing ... the archetypal arty, geeky kid with a backpack full of comics and paint on his blazer sleeves.
“My family were always supportive of my creative leanings, but never really understood them. I think they secretly hoped it was just a phase I’d one day grow out of. I never did.”
Guy, a former pupil at Bedlington High School, studied fashion at the Bath Lane Art School in Newcastle in the late 80s before heading to the capital for university.
He then had a nomadic life, living in Paris and America before moving to Australia eight years ago.
“After dropping out of college I had a string of jobs in fashion, but never really felt at home in that industry,” he said.
“It’s all a bit too pretentious for a down-to-earth Geordie boy like myself, truth be told, and I quickly ended up making costumes in the more bohemian world of burlesque and performance.
“That’s still pretty much what I do now for a day job in between exhibitions. I’ve done costume design for everything from pop videos to opera and massive arena spectaculars. I specialise in corsetry and tailoring. When I moved to Sydney it really did feel like home. It has a giant replica of the Tyne Bridge across the harbour ... purposefully built, I like to think, just to remind me of my early beginnings at Bath Lane all those years ago.”
Guy, who has been branded “one of the most promising and collectable artists” of his generation by Australian critics, has shown his art around the globe. For more on his art see the website www. guyjameswhitworth.com