Stella’s torch gift

Stella Vine portrait of JK Rowling. Do not use earlier picture.
Stella Vine portrait of JK Rowling. Do not use earlier picture.

WORLD-famous artist Stella Vine has jumped on board plans to welcome the Olympic torch to her native Alnwick, by donating three signed prints to help raise money for the town’s celebrations.

The 42-year-old former Convent School pupil, who was catapulted onto the international art scene when Charles Saatchi bought her iconic portrait of Princess Diana, answered a call from the Gazette to get involved in the forthcoming Festival of Alnwick, which will run from June 9 to 15 to coincide with the torch’s arrival in Northumberland.

Stella, who now lives and works in Chelsea, said: “I’m giving three prints of a painting I did of JK Rowling, who created Harry Potter, which obviously has a strong local connection to Alnwick because of the castle.

“They will be individually signed and numbered, as part of a limited edition of just 100 prints, so by the time of the festival they’ll all likely be gone.”

Gazette editor and festival chairman Paul Larkin said: “To have an artist of Stella’s calibre offering her work to help raise money for the Festival of Alnwick is a real coup for the town. We hope to offer one of the prints as a prize in the duck race we are planning at the Alnwick Garden’s Grand Cascade on the Sunday of the Festival.

“The other two will be part of an auction to raise money before the event.

“We’re delighted to have Stella on board, as she is one of Alnwick’s most famous daughters.”

Despite success and high profile, Stella still has a strong connection to Alnwick and visits her grandmother – who lives in the town – regularly.

She donated three paintings to the Bailiffgate Museum in September 2004 and returned to the venue in June 2006 to stage an exhibition called ‘Whatever Happened to Melissa Jane?’, where she also held art workshops for local schoolchildren.

Stella said: “I was back in Alnwick over Christmas to see my grandma and was most impressed with the display of festive lights. Northumberland is still very dear to me and I’ve got a show coming up in Dublin where I will be exhibiting paintings I’ve done of the county.

“I’m going to try and get back for the Festival of Alnwick in June and I’m delighted to be able to help the town celebrate the arrival of the Olympic Torch.”