Concilium Plebis #4

PROJECT: Concilium Plebis

extraordinary portraits of ordinary people


oil on canvas


76 x 102 cm

private collection



"It was a bleak and freezing Derby afternoon when I went out on the streets looking for a model for my next painting. I wanted someone with a hood that could cast Zurbaran-esque shadows across their face, and I had borrowed a friend's studio nearby and set up lights ready to photograph this trusting stranger, whoever they may be.


The persistent rain was turning into sleet and I was beginning to give up hope that I would ever find the right person. In fact I was about to give up hope in general, when, in the failing light, I saw a man coming out of McDonald's with his hood up over his face and wincing against the wet sleet. I really have the most dreadful eyesight and I couldn't have told you his age or colour or anything - but something (mostly desperation to get indoors perhaps) told me to just grab him. The whole of the Concilium Plebis project was blessed with serendipitous events so I just went with it.


Huddled in a doorway as if we were making a drug deal, I showed him some pictures of my work and he seemed interested, and mentioned something about having been photographed before, but to be honest I had a lot of trouble understanding what he was saying. I thought at first that perhaps he was homeless and that perhaps he had had his teeth knocked out - something like that. Back at the studio we started to take some pictures, and my friend who was helping out (and had much better eyesight than me) discreetly explained our model was infact wearing decorative gold tooth 'grillz', and these were responsible for the communication problems.


He asked if I liked tattoos because he had seen tattooed sitters in some of my paintings, and would I like to see his ink?  It was warmer in the studio so I said, 'why not!' He pulled off the many layers of wet winter clothing and explained again more clearly that he was a sometime underwear model.  This painting was the result."