Actor's artwork on display in Norwich exhibition

Rosalind and Cila by John Link 

Rosalind and Cila by John Link - Credit: John Link 

An art exhibition celebrating the life and work of actor, director, teacher and painter John Link, who died in Norwich last year, runs in the city’s Mandell’s Gallery until April 30. 

It has been put together by John’s wife, Bridget Brice, who starred in The Professionals and appeared in Coronation Street and alongside Ronnie Corbett in Sorry. 

She is now a communications and presentations coach and has worked with national and international clients including Unicef and the BBC. 

John trained as an actor and worked as a theatre director and television producer, as well as teaching at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and many of his paintings were inspired by his love of Shakespeare. Some of his final work, including a typically vibrant, confident and colourful piece called Spring Cannot Be Cancelled are included in the exhibition.  

Girl in the Green Dress by John Link

Girl in the Green Dress by John Link - Credit: John Link

He started painting aged 60 after his doctor said he needed to find a way to relax. A few years later he was working as a full-time artist.  

As his paintings progressed his figures became more evocative and elusive and his landscapes turned dream-like. His Shakespearian character paintings included Rosalind from As You Like It and Miranda from the Tempest. 

Bridget and John fell in love with Norwich after visiting friends in the city and went straight back to their home in Brighton, put the house on the market and moved to Cringleford and then Bracondale. 

Bridget Brice and John Link on their wedding day

Bridget and John Link on their wedding day - Credit: Family photograph

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John said the people of Norwich had opened their arms to him and Bridget and spent his final three years painting in a studio in Muspole Street, Norwich. He was delighted to find people wanted to buy his paintings - believing this was because local people were interested in history and art.  

John and Bridget met at drama school and were married for 56 years. Bridget’s 40-year career in film, television and theatre included roles in several films and appearances in Z Cars and as secretary Betty in the first season of The Professionals in 1977. 

She now works as a coach, helping clients deliver presentations and pitches, using techniques she learned as an actor to train people to capture their audience, manage nerves, feel confident, develop a strong physical presence, improve voice quality. 

John died, aged 80, from bowel cancer, in August 2021. Bridget said: “The exhibition is mind-blowing good and needs to be seen. The most colourful, energetic and charismatic paintings are those that John painted when he was going through his chemotherapy.” 

The exhibition, John Link, 1941–2021, is at Mandell’s Gallery, Elm Hill, Norwich, Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-5pm, until April 30.