Bradfield St Clare: Upturn in fortunes for Savoy artist

A SUFFOLK-based painter, who for years struggled to sell his work, has seen a dramatic shift in his fortunes since he was named artist-in-residence at The Savoy.

Stuart McAlpine Miller, who works from his home in Bradfield St Clare between Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds, was chosen from more than a thousand applicants to take up the prestigious position late last year. He is currently working on a series of eight artworks, based on celebrity guests who have stayed at the iconic hotel down the ages. The portraits, details of which are closely guarded, are set to take pride of place in the property’s central atrium when they are unveiled at the end of September.

“It’s a very high-profile position for an artist. To be connected with such a well-known building and to have my work up where so many top people from around the world will see it is very exciting,” said Mr McAlpine Miller, 48, who moved up to rural Suffolk from London about a year ago.

Mr McAlpine Miller’s multi-layered works involve foreground figures being super-imposed on iconic images from popular culture. While it looks like the effect has been produced by photography, it is, in fact, the result of his expertise with oil paints. Prices for his works have more than trepled in the past year and now fetch around �30,000.

But it wasn’t always easy for Mr McAlpine Miller.

He said: “I was working for galleries for years in London and had a young family to provide for and there was a lot of pressure to keep producing. I was living on a week-by-week basis and it was impossible to plan for the future.”

But everything changed when he was diasgnosed with cancer and spent years receiving treatment from the Royal Free Hospital.

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“I had time to sit back and strip away everything and to think about the style I wanted to develop and what I’m doing now is a result of these experiences,” he added.

It also gave Mr McAlpine Miller a new perspective on time, one that he requires for his painstaking work. The eight paintings he is producing for The Savoy, for example, will take a year to complete.

He said: “Over the years I’ve learnt to slow down and moving up to Suffolk was all part of this process - to be somewhere where I can work and be away from distractions.”

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