Ex-messenger delivers arresting art pictures

By Mike Pentelow

Man holding self-portrait cartoon.

George Skeggs with a pop self portrait of himself being arrested

From delivering art works to film and television studios George Skeggs now paints them in his own studio. Back in the 1970s George was a messenger for West One Studios, the offset printers and commercial artists, at 15-16 Newman Street, and then at 14 Hanway Place when they moved there in 1973. "We did a lot of work for film and television studios and I had to deliver them," George, now aged 68, told Fitzrovia News. "I remember one particular job for advertising Star Wars, which was premiered at the Dominion in Tottenham Court Road, and I had to take the posters there."

At the same time he pursued his own talent for painting, which had first been spotted in the 1950s by television artist Rolf Harris who taught at George’s east end school. At the age of eight George’s work was chosen to be included in the London Schools Exhibition which toured China. Later on, encouraged by his art teacher, he joined art workshops at the Whitechapel Art Gallery to broaden his horizons.

When working in Fitzrovia, in 1974, he had work exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, and the National Museum of Wales.

He was also involved in the Arts Laboratory scene in Seven Dials, which was frequently raided by the police, seizing what was perceived as subversive work. This is recalled in one of George’s contemporary works, which was exhibited recently at the Seven Dials Community Centre. It shows George being “nicked” by a police constable.

While at West One Studios he joined the print union, Sogat, and in 1975 won a competition for paintings by printworkers, which were exhibited at the TUC headquarters in Great Russell Street.

After leaving West One Studios he became a junior manager for the British Musuem Library acquisitions department for 27 years. While there he became chair of the Sogat branch and led the 24-hour strike in support of the nurses’ pay claim.

He now has a studio in Long Acre, on the site of an old banana warehouse. His paintings have been displayed in Paris and Caracass, and he has provided art work for CD and album covers.

“In recent years I have become obsessed with the mystique and stories which surround the myths of King Arthur’s Camelot,” he said. “I have used them as a starting point for a series of Gothic paintings, using the words of the poet Tennyson as a stimulus. I also had in the 1980s a passing interest in Pop Retro, which resurfaced this year.”

His work can be viewed on his website merlintwo.com

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