In Art & Culture/ Homes and Interiors

Bring on the old razzle dazzle

There’s a new contemporary artist in the city, and not only is he internationally renowned, but he’s also opened a gallery with his name above the door on Southgate Street.

Meet Simon Claridge from Claridge Fine Art, whose dazzling diamond-dust art works have been snapped up by celebrities the world over. They’re the sort of thing you can easily imagine hanging in a celebrity pad (Rod Stewart, Claudia Schiffer and Nick Faldo all have ‘a Claridge’). But they’re brilliantly executed too, and would be equally at home on a Winchester wall.

“I’ve always loved the work of Andy Warhol,” says Simon, who landed a contract with international art distributor Washington Green just months after first launching himself as a professional artist.

“My work focuses on the female form, using iconic images of fashion and film icons which are then manipulated and silk-screen-printed before being hand-coloured and dusted with lead crystal.”

Access to rare iconic photographs of stars from across the world has given Simon a myriad of stars to choose from. Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Brigitte Bardot feature widely in his work, with more contemporary stars including Kate Moss, David Bowie and Blondie. High-impact Playboy covers are manipulated to enhance the female form and are recreated as art works in their own right, achieving just the right balance of sexy sophistication.

The gallery also features complementary works from big names like Damien Hirst and lesser-known artists including letterform aficionado Chloe Vaux and Louise Dear, whose intensely-coloured work has the feel of Klimt with multiple textures and gold leaf.

But it’s not just for the major works that a visit here feels like an injection of energy. Low-cost icon photographic prints are beautifully framed, and a range of eclectic greeting cards provides another reason to pop in regularly for a browse. And then there’s Simon himself. He’s a self-confessed ‘people person’, and it shows.

“The greatest pleasure of all for me is talking with people who feel as inspired by the work I have here as I do,” he says. “The other is when a picture comes off the easel or the silk-screen bench and it looks stunning. I still get a rush from hanging something new.”

01962 841911 www.claridgefineart.com

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