Everyone Is an Artistartist; Mike Chapple Talks to the Man Dedicated T Enriching Everyone's Lives by Showing Them They Do Have Talent
Byline: Mike Chapple
HERE'S always been a place for pricking the often precious balloon that is art.
Take a song by the late cockney bard and Royal College of Art student Ian Dury, who became a teacher at Canterbury Art College before finding chart-topping stardom.
It was called There Ain't Half Been Some Clever B-s and contained the memorably irreverent line: "Van Gough did some eyeball pleasers/ He must have been a pencil squeezer/ He didn't do the Mona Lisa/ That was an Italian geezer."
Christian Furr is another who rails against the exclusivity of his calling.
The 39-year-old from Heswall is the youngest artist to have painted the Queen's portrait. But he has come to prominence with more ordinary folk on the TV talent show A Brush With Fame which aimed to dig out some of the country's latent best artistic talent - and also as the resident artist on Channel 4's Richard and Judy Show.
When Christian initially appeared teaching celebrities how to draw and paint, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan were inundated with enquiries from viewers wanting to know more. It spawned a competition to find the country's best amateur artists - and Christian was astonished at the quality of the work they received.
"One of the best was from a 68-year-old woman," says Christian. "It was a still life called Grandma's Kitchen which was a lovely study of just all the stuff on her window sill."
The response reinforced his belief that everyone has the ability to draw or paint but somewhere along the generation line it has been lost.
In the Victorian era, he maintains, it was common for ordinary people with no formal training to take a sketch book everywhere they went. His great grandfather was no exception and made a habit of drawing anything he saw of interest on his travels around Merseyside. Christian believes modern teaching methods have also extinguished some of the natural skills involved.
"The old art school teachers taught all the basics which now get overlooked," says Christian who is full of praise for his former art teacher Mr Mahon at his old school St Anselm's College in Birkenhead.
He also feels that a lot of potential is nipped early in the bud because people are told that they have no talent.
"The problem is that there are lots of people who are not sure if their work is good enough or not, so it encourages them if it is validated in some way," says Furr, who finally decided to do something about what calls "giving something back".
The result is The Lost Art, an unpretentious book which gives an understanding of the basic principles and teaching essentials which have been lost to the mainstream public.
Certainly his champions Richard and Judy are fulsome in their praise for it.
"Christian has tapped into something that many of us feel - a desire to express ourselves in this way if only we know how to," they say. …