Wollaston artist gears up for biggest-ever solo exhibition

Stourbridge News: Geoff Tristram with one his favourite classic portraits from over the years. Buy photo: 141428L Buy this photo Geoff Tristram with one his favourite classic portraits from over the years. Buy photo: 141428L

RENOWNED Wollaston artist Geoff Tristram is gearing up to showcase his life’s work in his biggest-ever solo exhibition.

40 Years Watching Paint Dry, which opens at Himley Hall on Saturday (April 5), charts four decades of work by the 59-year-old from Eggington Road, who is perhaps best-known for his caricatures of top snooker players and his quirky cat conundrum paintings which were turned into jigsaw puzzles.

Running for 20 weeks, the eclectic display comprises a mix of privately commissioned large-scale portraits, caricatures that have graced the pages of national newspapers, comedy cartoons – many of which were commissioned for game manufacturer Ravensburger's humorous Best of British and What If series of jigsaw puzzles, the original cat conundrum images, children’s book illustrations, advertising campaign images and Italian landscapes.

Illustrations from Geoff’s very own comedy books about scatterbrained artist David Day are also thrown in for good measure, along with Tristram family portraits – and even some of the artist’s earliest work from his school days at Quarry Bank Junior School including a now legendary handcrafted wooden sheep that he immortalised in one of his novels.

The father-of-two said: “It’s been quite emotional; I haven’t seen any of this stuff for years - a lot of it’s been loaned back to me by very kind people."

Geoff, who estimates he’s produced more than 5,000 paintings and a staggering 100,000-plus caricatures over his lengthy career, said: “It’s really scary how quickly it’s gone. All of a sudden I’m nearly 60 - I’m about 12 in my head.”

A keen artist since the age of four, who used to tell his schoolteachers how to draw, Geoff says he feels “lucky” to have been able to carve a living out of his lifelong passion.

He added: “You’ve got to be lucky but you’ve got to be good as well.”

After his student days at Wolverhampton School of Art, Geoff started out working as an illustrator at Gavin Brook Design Consultancy producing brochures and leaflets for the glass industry. He also spent a year working for Dudley Council’s art department, designing leaflets, before deciding to go it alone and become self-employed.

In the early days he rented a studio at the HQ of Graduate Records, which led to him being asked to create the cover artwork for pop/reggae band UB40's first two albums.

Since then his work has been seen in print and on TV across the land - he even spotted one of the jigsaw puzzles he illustrated in a High Street book store in New Zealand.

Over the years Geoff has also turned a host of famous faces and sporting stars into caricatures including Jonathan Ross, Ant and Dec, Cherie Blair, David Beckham, Wolves legend Steve Bull, cricketer Ian Botham and former England football team captain Alan Shearer who even called in at the artist's Wollaston home to pose for a pre-painting photo shoot.

He has also created artwork for postage stamps including the Charles and Diana Royal wedding - and has sketched and interviewed the world's top snooker players live on TV as part of his work for Embassy.

The exhibition at Himley Hall runs until Sunday September 7 and is free to visit. The Dudley Council run venue is open from 2pm to 5pm every day - except Mondays.

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