Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight artist's portrait in national exhibition

Image caption The background behind each worker relates to their role at the firm

A portrait of the workforce of a coffin-making firm by an Isle of Wight artist is in a national exhibition.

Jamie Ogilvie-Forbes' work is being shown alongside some of Britain's leading portrait artists at London's Mall Galleries.

He is one of a handful of artists to be chosen from more than 1,000 entries to exhibit at the gallery.

The painting features 15 workers from the firm, which makes coffins in both Nottingham and on the Isle of Wight.

Originally from Niton, near Ventnor and now based in Sussex, Mr Ogilvie-Forbes said he was delighted to be chosen for such a high-profile show.

'Sense of achievement'

He said: "It is really nice, it brings the thing to a nice conclusion. You get a sense of achievement that someone else thinks it's all right."

The 6ft (1.8m) by 2ft (0.6m) oil painting being shown at the exhibition is a miniature version of a 40ft-long (12m) mural which will be hung in the working space of the Nottingham factory.

The idea for the portrait's layout came from one of the firm's directors who saw a similar mural at a cafe in Spain.

Mr Ogilvie-Forbes said: "They're not all working but standing and looking down at the factory.

"Each worker has a background related to their role, one of the Isle of Wight workers was spraying the coffins so he has water trickling down behind him, another is a driver who has a map behind him."


Vic Fearn & Company are thought to be the Island's oldest coffin-manufacturers.

The late V.H. Fearn of Ventnor took over a long-established Nottingham manufacturer in the 1950s. In 1980 part of its manufacturing base was moved to Calbourne on the Isle of Wight.

The annual Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition features commissioned portraits of celebrities and major public figures by members of the society on show alongside selected entries by non-members.

This year there are over 200 portraits by 100 artists, including one of The Queen by James Lloyd. The exhibition runs until May 20.

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