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Rolf Harris puts his talent on show at Southwold

PUBLISHED: 09:11 08 October 2010

HE is one of the nation's most popular and versatile artists - not to mention a pop singer and TV star.

And later this month Rolf Harris will be bringing his latest exhibition to Southwold.

The much-loved Aussie is celebrating his 65th year in art with a touring exhibition that showcases original paintings alongside limited edition drawings and sculptures.

Southwold Gallery, run by Karen and Kevin Keable, has scored a major coup to secure the show, which opens on Saturday October 23 and runs until Sunday November 7.

As well as displaying a range of his work, Rolf, who’s still working hard at the age of 80, is scheduled to make a personal appearance in Southwold at an exclusive exhibition launch.

Mrs Keable said: “Since buying the gallery five years ago we have worked very hard in securing work from top East Anglian artists and in building a loyal client base, which has helped to raise the profile and popularity of the Southwold Gallery.

“Obviously we are very proud to have secured the national tour exhibition of Rolf Harris, especially as Rolf is such a national treasure.”

Plans to bring the exhibition to Southwold got under way through the Keables’ relative Soo Defries, who works for Rolf.

Mrs Keable said: “Last year, Rolf contacted us with regards to a possible painting magazine that he may be involved in after seeing my book, Acrylics Workshop II. He was so friendly, telling me jokes, such a lovely genuine man.”

She added: “The family are all big fans of Rolf, especially Kevin who has loved Rolf since he was a young child. When we heard about Rolf’s national exhibition, we immediately approached the organisers to see if there was any possibility of Southwold Gallery being involved and to our extreme delight, his exhibition will be here for two weeks, with a guest appearance from Rolf himself.”

Rolf’s position as one of the country’s leading artists was confirmed when he was invited to paint the official 80th birthday portrait of the Queen, a project which was also filmed by the BBC.

He has been awarded many accolades including the CBE both for his art and his work in the entertainment industry and his BBC1 programme Rolf On Art gained the highest ever viewing figures for a programme about the visual arts, topping the previous best by more than six million viewers.

A champion swimmer in his youth, Rolf originally moved to England in 1952 and forged a successful pop career in the 1960s with hits such as ‘Tie me Kangaroo Down Sport’, ‘Sun Arise’ and ‘Two Little Boys’ before becoming a successful TV presenter with his own shows that almost always featured art.

He made a successful return to the pop charts in 1993 with a cover of the Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ before playing the song during an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival.

His Life In Art exhibition includes limited editions, lithographs, sculptures and a new retrospective art book, with work inspired by scenes from around the world including Venice, South Africa and his native Australia.

• Life in Art opens at Southwold Gallery, 64A High Street, Southwold, on Saturday October 23 and will be open daily from 10am to 5pm. Rolf will be attending a private launch, numbers are limited and srtictly by invitation only.

For more information or an exhibition catalogue, telephone the gallery on 01502 723888 or visit www.southwoldgallery.co.uk.

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