Paintings based on the Bard’s work

One of the works on show.
One of the works on show.

Chichester-based charity Children On The Edge will benefit from an exhibition of paintings inspired by Shakespearian plays from stage and screen actor Jonathan Hyde.

Jonathan, perhaps best known for playing J Bruce Ismay, the managing director of the White Star Line in Titanic, was in Chichester last summer to star in Rattigan’s Nijinsky at the Festival Theatre.

“I was staying with my landlady Patricia Kerr who is very strongly connected with Children On The Edge, and she said it would be lovely if I put a few pictures into the Minerva” - where the charity is hosting Virginia Ironside’s The Virginia Monologues: Why Growing Old Is Great on February 4.

Jonathan responded by coming up with some narrative paintings - but definitely not in the manner in which Millais so famously painted Ophelia.

“He painted her floating rather decorously on the surface surrounded by flowers. I did a painting of her floating at the bottom. I like to do them with a twist!”

The idea grew - and the display has become Jonathan’s first major public exhibition, running at Chichester’s Oxmarket Centre of Arts, in aid of Children On The Edge, from February 6 to 18.

The Shakespearean theme features strongly including one of Macbeth, whom Jonathan himself played: “It’s vaguely self-portraity, but I have tried to steer away from that.”

It’s not about reproducing production pictures; more, it’s an imaginative exercise.

“I have done one of Claudius with a bit of gold leaf to make him look like an icon. There is also one of Lear screaming. There is also the Fool. There are stacks of all sorts of things. There is a big painting from the Duchess Of Malfi.”

It’s Jonathan’s first exhibition since his student days in Australia: “And the thing that has motivated it is Children On The Edge. If it hadn’t been for Children On The Edge, I would have found no edge at all.”

Painting is something Jonathan has long done, but generally in “feeding frenzies”: “I find painting quite awkward. People often think of it as therapeutic, in the way people sometimes think that acting is therapeutic. I find that painting can be cathartic, but I also find it unsettling in a way.”

The charity works to help the most marginalised and vulnerable children in the world, those literally on the edge. Jonathan’s work is at the Oxmarket from February 6-18.