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Artist Fiona captures the career of magnificent AP McCoy

By Claire McNeilly

Sir Anthony McCoy's amazing career has always been defined by numbers - 20 champion jockey titles, 4,357 winners, 31 Cheltenham Festival victories, one Grand National triumph.

Now a Northern Ireland artist has depicted the legendary rider's gilded achievements on canvas, using his unsurpassable total of wins as inspiration.

Indeed, Co Down woman Fiona Lowe Brunell took to her task so meticulously, she used exactly 4,357 brush strokes to create the finished painting.

And AP was clearly impressed because the artwork - featuring the classic green and yellow hooped colours synonymous with him - is now hanging in his Berkshire home.

"Like AP himself, I've always been interested in statistics and that's what initially got the pair of us talking," said 34-year-old Fiona.

She first met the Moneyglass man at a function in Belfast shortly after he retired from racing in 2015.

"I told him I was an artist and he said he'd be interested in discussing a mathematical representation of his career with me," she added.

This isn't the first time Newry native Fiona, who recently held a CS Lewis-inspired exhibition at the ArtisAnn Contemporary Art Gallery in Belfast, has featured a statistics-based representation of a retired Northern Ireland sports star.

A previous work encapsulated the career of former Ulster, Ireland and Lions rugby ace Stephen Ferris.

She got the green light for the McCoy project some six months after her initial meeting with the 42-year-old.

"I put together a number of different compositions that might work - some actually had a horse in them - but in the end we went for that particular image because he quite liked the abstract take on it," said Fiona.

"In the end, it was the statistics of his career but the colouration related to that as well, so it all tied in, in a modern piece."

She added: "People looking at it would just think that it's an abstract work but the explanation of what's contained within the painting is along the bottom of the prints so it's an understanding of what the image contains."

It took "between six and 12 months" to complete the painting "because he had 4,357 wins and there had to be exactly 4,357 brush strokes".

"I wanted to be accurate and make sure there were exactly that number of brush strokes in it so I only did so many per day and counted them and tallied them to make sure I had the correct number," Fiona explained.

The finished work, in a 92cms by 65cms box canvas, has 20 green and yellow stripes down one side - for AP's 20-year-career - and another 10 down the other, representing the year 2010, when McCoy finally won his first and only Grand National on Don't Push It and was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The central section has 20 and 15 lines within the composition to mark the year of his retirement and lifetime achievement award. There are also 20 prints - limited edition Giclee signed by both jockey and artist - "because he was 20 times champion jump jockey and it's in keeping with the numbers theme", Fiona said.

"A lot of my work has an interest in numbers and statistics although I don't know where it comes from because I studied French and history of art at Queen's," added Fiona.

"I didn't think I was a mathematical person although I did study architecture initially... I didn't realise I had such an interest in numbers."

Giclee prints of Fiona's work, measuring 76cm x 63cm, are available at £295, while the smaller ones (55cm x 47cm) retail at £195, and both also come with a certificate of authenticity signed by both jockey and artist.

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