Art is full of Turkish delights

Adam Gretton A Suffolk artist who has spent the last ten years in the country that links Europe and Asia is marking his homecoming by staging an international exhibition at his local village hall.

Adam Gretton

His work has appeared in Turkey's equivalent of Buckingham Palace and in Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar.

But a Suffolk artist who has spent the last ten years in the country that links Europe and Asia is marking his homecoming by staging an international exhibition at his local village hall.

Ned Pamphilon, of Coney Weston, near Thetford, has famously been trying to get permission from the Turkish government to paint a rainbow along the entire length of Istanbul's 1.5km Bosphorus Bridge as a symbol of peace between east and west since the turn of the millennium.

But the country's "unofficial cultural ambassador", whose ambitious rainbow bridge art project was turned down because it was "too gay", is now focusing on life back in East Anglia by staging his first independent art exhibition on home soil.

The 45-year-old said he hopes to teach Suffolk about the wonders of Turkey by hosting 'Coney Weston, Istanbul & Back? Yeah!' at the village hall next week.

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Mr Pamphilon, who staged the first contemporary art exhibition within Turkey's 500-year-old Grand Bazaar ten years ago, shipped over 100 pieces of his work last month after getting permission from the Istanbul Topkapi Palace Museum. He left behind the biggest public portrait of the nation's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, at an Istanbul conference and exhibition centre, plus numerous artworks in the public and private domain. The artist, who was born and raised near Thetford, said he left Turkey "frustrated" after failing to get his rainbow bridge project off the ground, which he says would create a "modern, positive" image of the country that wants to enter the European Union.

The former front man of 80s rock band And The Generals Ran Forever said he thought Turkey was "third world hell" when he played there at the end of a European tour in 1988, but was "blown away" when he revisited Istanbul years later.

"I would like to wake up sleepy Suffolk and talk to them about the lovely beautiful Muslims that live in Turkey. Seventeen million people live there, but no one seems to know that Father Christmas came from Turkey and Noah's Ark landed in Turkey. Most of my images are mainly colourful, friendly pictures of Istanbul and my goal is to make my images synonymous with Turkey and keep selling Turkey to the rest of the world," he said.

His free exhibition will take place at Coney Weston Village Hall from July 14 to 20.

Described by art critic Brian Sewell as the "most obstinately provocative painter I know", Mr Pamphilon will also be exhibiting an optical illusion painting which looks like Marilyn Monroe from a distance, but transforms into Albert Einstein at short range.