‘Paint it Black’ - Rolling Stones inspired artist scoops Royal Norfolk Show prize

Guy Gowing of Arnolds Keys (left) presents the Sponsor’s Choice Award to artist John Sparrow. Photo:

Guy Gowing of Arnolds Keys (left) presents the Sponsor’s Choice Award to artist John Sparrow. Photo: Newman Associates - Credit: Archant

A painter who took up his brush only five years ago after a chance meeting with Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood has taken home a prestigious award at the Royal Norfolk Show.

John Sparrow, from Norwich, ran into Wood at an art gallery five years ago, and was so inspired he decided to take up art.

Wood, 72, is also known for his visual art as well as his glittering musical career, and has used his talents to have raise money to save endangered rhinos.

Mr Sparrow, who paints in his spare time between his job as a hairdresser, exhibited a pap art acrylic painting of Ronnie Wood himself at the Royal Norfolk Show Art Exhibition this year.

Judges were so impressed they awarded him the Sponsor's Choice Award, and parised the striking nature of the piece.

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"I was good at art at school, but it was only when I met Ronnie by chance at a gallery about five years ago that I was inspired to take up painting," said Mr Sparrow.

Entirely self-taught, Mr Sparrow paints in the pop-art style of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, producing one or two works a week.

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"Amongst an exhibition where the standard was again very high, John's works really stood out for the vibrant colour and the skill with which the subject was captured," said Arnolds Keys managing partner Guy Gowing.

"Once again the range of art in the exhibition was to a very high standard, including many excellent paintings and sculptures."

More than 400 works by Norfolk artists were on display in the show's art exhibition, with many being snapped up by show visitors early on the first day.

After a strong first day, visitors numbers for the 2019 Royal Norfolk Show are thought to have matched last year's total of 85,000 - the highest number for 10 years, which was boosted by hot weather.

Greg Smith, chief executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA), which runs the show, hopes a second year of strong visitor numbers means the show is "back on track" following a difficult year in 2017.

"The crowds flocked back to the show for the second day and early estimates show that our numbers match last year's, which is excellent news," he said.

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