Pop Icons Guy Portelli


Written by Ellie Wallis
29 Monday 29th March 2010

Guy Portelli is a South African born sculptor whose recent appearance on BBC2’s Dragons’ Den, awarded him not only 80k but a chance to shine light on his newest creations in his Pop Icons exhibition featuring celebrity inspired pieces. I spoke to him to find out more about his work.

Since 2008 when you appeared in front of the dragons of the TV show Dragons’ Den, what have you done with the 80k you were awarded with in your deal with them? 
50k on designing and making the balance of the collection and 30k on renting The Mall Galleries for the collection launch.
Has it been a fun process working along side them, and have they grow as art lovers as a consequence? 
I think they have become more of what is involved with artists and how new ideas evolve and the processes of arriving at the finished piece of sculpture. 
What sort of reaction has the show had after being unveiled in June last year? And did the publicity raised by the show contribute to much of its success? 
The idea was to create momentum by launching the show in a big way and that has carried the project along and lead to many exciting possibilities.

Have any of your ‘pop icons’ been in touch with you in real life? And if so, what were their reactions to your representations of them? 
At this point we haven’t dealt with any directly – the Bono piece was at Wembley last summer for U2’s concerts we don’t know if Bono saw it but Eddie Jordan and Roman Abramovich did!
What has this project meant to you as a sculptor and do you think artists such as yourself should be made more able to raise funds for their exhibitions from either the Government or art bodies? 
It’s given me the opportunity to create the collection of my dreams financially. Artists have to be aware that they are not only indulging their dreams. If they want to pursue it full time, you have to find a way of funding it and collaborating with business similar to the way film makers do.

What has been your favourite pop icon to work on and why? 
I enjoyed the Sex Pistols more than most because of the visual imagery and opportunity to be slightly anarchic was fun –but it would be hard to work on a piece I did not enjoy.

What is your next project
I have the possibility of collaborating with some musicians on future art projects.
Visit his website


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