Gallery: Bohemian lifestyle of artist Guy Gladwell of Aldeburgh celebrated by friends and family
The colourful life of an artist whose ability to emulate old masters earned him a celebrity following and international renown has been celebrated posthumously by friends and family.
Guy Gladwell, who painted portraits of Michael Caine, Paul Simon and Peter Langan before carving out a new niche for himself on the Suffolk coast, has died aged 67.
His wife, Amanda, hosted a celebration of his life at their Aldeburgh home on Monday.
She said: “It was absolutely amazing. Everything fell into place.”
Mrs Gladwell’s first encounter with her husband-to-be was in a coastal pub more than 20 years ago when he whisked her off to New York mere moments after they met.
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“Then two years later, we were getting married – it was as simple as that,” she said.
“He was very spontaneous, always living for the moment, never resting on his laurels.”
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Born in Nairobi, Mr Gladwell began painting in Jersey under the tuition of Sir Francis Barry, a revered post impressionist based on the island.
Rapidly establishing himself as an excellent seascape artist, the ambitious young painter moved to London in 1969 where he joined the Nicholas Treadwell Gallery.
In 1980 he parted ways and enjoyed a prolific period, earning commissions to paint portraits of Michael Caine and Paul Simon, demanding a private performance of Bridge Over Troubled Water from the songwriter in return.
He exhibited extensively across Europe and America, with numerous appearances at the Royal Academy, establishing himself alongside contemporaries such as David Hockney, Ronald Kitaj and Keith Proctor.
Away from London in Nedging Tye, Suffolk, then Aldeburgh in 1991, his career faded from its heyday of the 70s and 80s.
He persevered, however, taking inspiration from the county’s picturesque coastline and its eccentric characters to blend in with the local artistic fraternity, which earned him a solo exhibition at Snape Maltings.
John Mackinnon, Mr Gladwell’s cousin, said his “lovable nature would always win through”.
He added: “He would pick himself up and off he would go again with a new band of interesting patrons. Guy was an incredibly gregarious sort with a kind, gentle and friendly demeanour and the regular pub, wherever it was, gave rise to many friendships and terrific material for his paintings.”
He picked up new fans too – not least Michael Pritt, owner of the Wentworth Hotel, who owns at least 16 of the paintings.
“I think the thing about Guy’s paintings was that everybody liked them, they could all enjoy them without having to he an expert,” he said. “That’s why they are such an asset for the hotel.”
Towards the end of his life, Mr Gladwell suffered with a debilitating brain condition that robbed him of his ability to paint.
“That was the cruellest thing,” said Mrs Gladwell.“It was awful for him”.
Although he lost his sight and speech, friends would wheel him to the pub every Friday night, where he could still enjoy the social atmosphere that he had always revelled in.
Mrs Gladwell has praised the “amazing community” in Aldeburgh for its support and also the staff at Chantry House, Saxmundham, where her husband spent his final days.
Looking back on the colourful life of a “mischievous, lovable extravert”, Mrs Gladwell, said: “He travelled the world, had many one-man shows, and had the talent to achieve just about anything.”