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Horace Panter turns old images of Birmingham into something special

The musician-turned-artist is among several to have recreated photographs by Phyllis Nicklin of 1950s Birmingham

Horace Panter of The Specials
Horace Panter of The Specials

The Specials might be synonymous with Coventry, but bassist Horace Panter has been getting to know Birmingham better with a series of new artworks.

The musician-turned-artist is among several to have recreated photographs by Phyllis Nicklin of 1950s Birmingham.

His work will go on show at the Reuben Colley Fine Art gallery on Colmore row next year, including images of Hockley Flyover and Longbridge, among others.

He explained: “The Camp Hill Flyover is where I used to come in and out of Birmingham.

“I also saw the picture containing a Thames Trader, which was the first lorry I ever rode in.

Artist Horace Panter's interpretation of Phyllis Nicklin's picture of Hockley Flyover
Artist Horace Panter's interpretation of Phyllis Nicklin's picture of Hockley Flyover

“The paintings have all meant quite a bit to me, which is important so you can put your heart and soul in it.”

Panter was studying fine art at Coventry University when he first got into The Specials.

He is among several artists to paint Nicklin’s work as part of “Nicklin Revisited”, which launches at the gallery in February.

The others are Colley himself, Danny Howes, Mark Godwin, Rick Garland, Stephen Earl Rogers and Kevin Line.

Panter’s interpretations were reflective of his pop art background. He said: “I liked the fact that because the pictures had been sat in a filing cabinet for 50 years, and there had been some skullduggery with the colour, it looked like the roads were blue and the sky was pink. That really appealed to me.

“I come from a pop art background so clean lines and colour are key. I have taken a lot of things out of the pictures so it works right. I’ve really enjoyed it. Now, we have blue streets and pink buildings.”

Panter sees art as a more long-term career, despite continuing to tour with Two Tone pioneers The Specials.

“The Specials aren’t going to last forever,” he said.

“Hopefully, after it gets to the point where I have to go on stage with a zimmer frame I will be able to do painting in my dotage.” He added: “I found it really interesting. I have an Americana series, where I paint diners and hotels, and I didn’t think this was too far removed. I like the fact that it was all about nostalgia, which is what my work is based on, so it wasn’t much of a leap.

“I also liked that it was not just the photo, it was my interpretation.”

Artist Horace Panter's interpretation of Phyllis Nicklin's picture of Camp Hill Flyover
Artist Horace Panter's interpretation of Phyllis Nicklin's picture of Camp Hill Flyover

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