You look familiar...! Pompey fan portrait goes up in exhibition

Reverend Ian Meredith, vicar of St Mary's Church, Portchester 

Picture: Sarah Standing (143431-719)

BY REV IAN MEREDITH: The vicar of St Mary’s Church, Portchester looks forward to marking the creation of the Protestant church

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YOU’RE not seeing double – there really are two John Westwoods in this picture.

The larger-than-life Pompey fan is posing with a portrait he once sat for in the aftermath of the club’s FA Cup victory.

LARGER THAN LIFE Artist Karl Rudziak with John Westwood alongside his painting of the superfan. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (132715-7)

LARGER THAN LIFE Artist Karl Rudziak with John Westwood alongside his painting of the superfan. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (132715-7)

The striking painting has now gone on display at Portsmouth Guildhall, and the legendary supporter was one of the guests of honour at last night’s opening event.

The portrait is the main focus of the exhibition, which sits alongside a number of other realistic paintings.

John said: ‘I’m no more passionate than any of the other fans, I just show it in a different way.

‘All of Karl’s portraits are fantastic and the quality is unbelievable.

‘He put up with me sitting in his living room for months while he did it and I was so impressed with the result.

‘It’s great to see it hanging here in Pompey.’

Artist Karl Rudziak, who lives in Old Portsmouth, spent eight months painting the larger-than-life Pompey fan.

At one point, the two-metre tall portrait was chosen to go on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

When the painting went on a national tour – including a short stop in Southampton – angry Saints fans demanded the superfan’s likeness be removed from the city’s art gallery.

Karl said: ‘The painting of John came about because we won the FA Cup and the city was in a great mood and I wanted to contribute to that mood.

‘All of the portraits are about people I find interesting, and they are people who have a story.

‘The kinds of people I find interesting are those who don’t conform the normal way.

‘It’s great to be here showing them in Portsmouth because the city really needs a big culture boost and it is great to be part of that.’

The exhibition, on the first floor of the Guildhall, runs from today until November 3.