Backdrop to portrait a surprise for its subject

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A slightly embarrassed Jim Geddes accepted a portrait of himself beside a famous painting by the English artist Sir Stanley Spencer, in front of a packed audience last week.

The painting was presented to the Gore district arts and heritage curator at the Mataura Licensing Trust annual corporate dinner.

“I had no idea, I was embarrassed and humbled. It’s bad enough looking in the mirror, that’s why I don’t shave,” Mr Geddes said.

Artist Stephen Martyn Welch painted the portrait of Mr Geddes at an event held in conjunction with the Riversdale Arts Annual Mixed Media Exhibition earlier this year.

The MLT bought the painting and presented it to Mr Geddes to be displayed in the gallery.

Mr Geddes was surprised when he was presented with the painting at the dinner. While he had seen the painting of himself when it was created at the Riversdale event, he had no idea there was a backdrop to the painting.

“I was very happy to sit for the Riversdale [exhibition]. They do a wonderful job,” he said.

When Welch was painting Mr Geddes the pair talked about their favourite artists and he mentioned the late Sir Stanley Spencer, he said.

“I studied him at art school.”

The original painting was in the Tait gallery in London, he said.

“It’s quite a famous painting of Spencer himself and his model.”

The model is Patricia Preece and the original work was painted in the 1930s.