Concilium Plebis #18

PROJECT: Concilium Plebis

"In the times of the ancient Roman Republic, Concilium Plebis was the Latin name for the 'Council of the ordinary people', and in this series of paintings I sought to capture 'ordinary people' from the streets of Derby where I was regrettably living at the time, and immortalise them in the style of 'old master' paintings.


The model for this particular painting was a young girl named Paris. She was perhaps only 16 years old when we met. She appears just as she was dressed that day – head-to-toe scarlet with gold jewellery. I rarely altered the models' clothes in the series so that they were true representations. Looking back, it was very fortuitous because that red really 'makes' the painting. I can't imagine it any other way.


Concilium Plebis #18 has always been a particularly popular painting wherever it has toured, partly because in the painting the young girl seems to have already transformed into a sexy young woman, radiating fashion-magazine coolness. Of course it was never my intention to paint this young girl as a sex-bomb. In fact, it never occurred to me to even see her like that until I saw other people's reactions to the painting – and then I felt very protective of her.


I think that is part of the picture's allure though: I captured Paris right on the cusp of adulthood - a time when she is indeed just a girl, but a time too when she is also keen to project herself as a young woman – and experiment with the all the incredible power that entails."

extraordinary portraits of ordinary people


oil on canvas


60 x 100 cm

private collection, reykjavík