Public Help Artist Create 'Fake' Vermeer At Kenwood House

By Roslyn Tappenden | 20 September 2004
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Shows a recreation of Vermeer's The Guitar Player, created in sections by various people.

The Guitar Player by Tina McCallan and others after Johannes Vermeer. Courtesy the artist/ English Heritage. Photo: Jawed Ashraf.

Visitors to Kenwood House last weekend contributed to the recreation of a fine art masterpiece.

The free event took place between September 17 and 19 at Kenwood House in Hampstead, north London.

Artist Tina McCallan invited people to paint a section of Johannes Vermeer’s Guitar Player, one of Kenwood’s most loved paintings, to create a patchwork copy of the original painting.

She sketched out a copy of the painting onto canvas and divided it into 80 sections. Over three days the flower garden of the stately home became a makeshift artist’s studio and visitors were given a square of the canvas to paint.

Shows a painting entitled The Guitar Player by Johannes Vermeer. It depicts a young lady sitting in front of a painting, playing a guitar.

The Guitar Player by Jan Vermeer (1632-75). © English Heritage Photo Library. Photo:Jonathen Bailey.

"We had three people working on the canvas at times. There was a wide mixture taking part ranging from two illustrators to people who had no experience of paints whatsoever," Tina McCallan, who was trained at the Royal Academy, told the 24 Hour Museum.

Some visitors came to the house especially to take part after hearing about the event on the 24 Hour Museum website, while others who had not heard about the painting required more encouragement.

"Most people were surprised at how easy and enjoyable it is after being convinced that they would mess it up," added Tina. "People are mystified by oil paints and painting. I try and break down that mystery with the use of oil paints."

Tina pointed out that her methods of creating art were not that different from the 15th Century artists.

Shows a photograph of Kenwood House in north London. A vast white villa, the house sits behind a gentle slope of grass, in front of which is a lake, bordered by trees.

The original brick house at Kenwood was remodelled in the 18th century by Robert Adam (1764-1779), who transformed it into a majestic villa. © English Heritage Photo Library.

"It was normal for an artist to employ assistants to paint for them," she said, "My work is a reference to the artists’ assistants of the 15th Century. The only difference is that all the people who contribute to my work are credited."

She has previously created six similar works, the most recent was a recreation of A Satyr Mourning a Nymph by Piero Di Cosimo at the National Gallery when 75 people took part.

You can see more of Tina’s work on her website: www.tinamccallan.com.

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