FROM launching the career of 60s icon Twiggy to being reborn after a devastating fire, the New Theatre Royal has had a colourful history.
Now all the highs and lows have been put on show by an Emsworth-based artist who has painted a huge picture timeline on hoardings behind the building.
The theatre’s artist in residence, Julie Anne, 39, spent under a month working on the project after she was given free rein to decorate the boards however she wanted.
Her decision to bring the Guildhall Walk theatre’s past to life has delighted staff at the theatre, who commissioned the artwork in order to brighten up the outside of their fire-damaged back lot.
Among the paintings are theatre lovers bringing their own chairs and umbrellas after the leaky theatre was reopened during the 1980s, and the many stars who have performed there from Laurel and Hardy to Lenny Henry.
The Cheshire-born artist said that when she started doing research she became fascinated by the theatre’s almost 150-year history.
‘It’s such a rich and eventful story,’ she said. ‘I thought it was a great challenge and I became really excited by the work.
‘I’m really sad to have finished it but it was such fun that I’m on the lookout for other walls to paint.
‘I was delighted when they asked me – I put my whole diary on hold to do this project, and it has turned out really well.’
Julie – who does most of her work with recycled materials – has also been asked to do work by Hampshire County Council and The National Motorcycle Sprint Association.
She said: ‘Every piece of work I do I approach differently and I try to focus completely on all of them.
‘I’m lucky enough to be able to paint well and that’s what I enjoy doing, no matter what it’s for.
‘I think art should be fun, and hopefully that comes across in the designs and pictures I’ve created for the theatre.’
The New Theatre Royal’s director, Caroline Sharman, said she had been overjoyed with how the project had turned out.
She said: ‘It looks really brilliant, we’re all very happy with it.
‘We wanted something bright and colourful and that is what Julie has delivered.’
She added that the use of recycled materials – including the boards and even the paint itself – was in keeping with the theatre’s identity.
‘We are currently in a period of renewal and change,’ she said. ‘But looking back to our past, such as the famous filming of The Boy Friend by Ken Russell and featuring Twiggy in 1971, is a wonderful idea.’