George always

This exhibition is now closed.

Portraits of George Melly by Maggi Hambling

27 February to 31 May 2009

Free entry

colourful expressive portrait painting of a man wearing a hat, eye patch and bright suit

'George Always I' © Maggi Hambling (2007/2008)
Courtesy of The Ivy

Liverpool's George Melly - jazz performer, surrealist, comic, raconteur, critic and author - was captured in this exhibition of portraits by his great friend, the distinguished contemporary artist Maggi Hambling.

The exotic nature of her subject inspired a rich, compelling celebration in works that were shown together for the first time at the Walker Art Gallery.

The exhibition included the last portraits of George before his death in July 2007 as well as a series that Hambling has painted since, from memory and imagination.

Her responses in paint to George's death were far from morbid however. They were tender, challenging, serious and funny. These highly original and imaginative portraits confronted the question of death head-on.

'Good time George' , whose energetic stage presence apparently inspired the young Mick Jagger, was portrayed singing, joking, drinking and laughing, as befits one of Liverpol's most colourful sons.

The exhibition comprised of 29 works, including

  • Hambling's triple portrait (1998) on loan from the National Portrait Gallery.
  • Ink drawings from life.
  • Oil paintings executed during Melly's final days.
  • A series of portraits painted after his death, including two on loan from from The Ivy restaurant in London.
  • A towering new waterfall triptych, inspired by George's colours. Completed in 2008, this work will be on show to the public for the first time.


A fully illustrated catalogue priced £9.95 is available from the Walker Art Gallery shop.

portrait photo of a woman with bright piercing eyes

Maggi Hambling © Gill Vaux

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