Celebrating a very ‘special’ exhibition at London’s Strand Gallery; Horace Panter, widely known as the bassist in the British iconic ska band The Specials, is also a professional artist and this is his second showing in the capital, this time sponsored by Sheaffer, the pen people. This unlikely collaboration developed after one of Sheaffer’s executives saw Horace’s work at a gallery in Birmingham and subsequently contacted him with a view to helping the brand to celebrate their 100th anniversary.
In all senses, the opening was a celebration! Around 400 people attended the evening, wine was flowing and the atmosphere was charged with optimism. Horace’s musical pals came to support him: Pete Williams (Dexys Midnight Runners), Mick Jones (The Clash), Rhoda Dakar (The Bodysnatchers) and Mark Bedford (Madness). Also attending was the legendary rock writer, Charles Shaar Murray and another highly regarded music journalist, Garth Cartwright. However, not all the guests were of the musical variety; Jane Asher came with cake and London’s own Suzie Kennedy came in her professional guise as Marilyn Monroe. Several people from Sheaffer HQ had flown over from the States to catch a glimpse of Horace’s art and to oversee what was, for them, an adventurous project. It was a nice touch that each person was given a Sheaffer ‘goody bag’ containing a boxed pen inscribed with the logo of the exhibition: ‘The Writing is on the Wall’ and Horace’s signature, inclusive of a vibrant programme detailing Horace’s work, all designed by The Magic Tractor.
Ostensibly to showcase a piece commissioned by Sheaffer, a triptych which Horace describes as ‘a painting about writing about painting’, the two floors of the gallery show the breadth of his work, from the fabulous Blues series to his robots and portraits, based on traditional iconography but fused with a Pop Art sensibility.
Judging by the paintings themselves and the smiles on the faces of the guests, this exhibition is going to be a huge hit. As Horace points out, he has a degree in fine art and was head of art at a secondary school for the decade prior to The Specials reforming in 2008 so, for him, art has never been out of the frame! The exhibition ran for a week.