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Brad Pitt 'was honoured' that Belfast artist painted his portrait

Published 13/11/2015

Colin Davidson In his studio with some of his work
Colin Davidson In his studio with some of his work
Colin Davidson being interviewed by Eamonn Mallie
Colin’s portrait of Brad Pitt

Acclaimed Northern Irish artist Colin Davidson has revealed he initially turned down a request from Brad Pitt to teach the Hollywood star to paint.

The Belfast portrait creator, who is a former pupil of Methodist College in Belfast, was asked in 2012 if he would take Pitt on as a protégé - but refused.

Speaking during an interview with broadcasting veteran Eamonn Mallie, to be shown on Irish TV, Davidson said he had to say no to the award-winning actor because he "wasn't a teacher".

He said: "It was May 2012 and I got a call from an attorney in the States saying that he had a client who would like to learn to paint.

"He said he had seen one of my paintings in the Royal Academy and they thought they would like to ask me if I would teach this client to paint."

But Davidson's first reaction, he told Mallie, was to say no.

"Look, I don't really teach, I'm not comfortable teaching," he said.

Davidson - famed for his large-scale head paintings of the famous - politely declined and suggested Pitt find a teacher in London while he was staying there with time to kill.

But a few months later the call came again - and this time, Pitt's attorney was more persistent.

He said they would very much like Davidson to take up their offer. Not only did Davidson go, but he now admits that he enjoyed meeting and teaching Pitt.

He said: "He seems to shun the limelight, he loves any opportunity to be a normal guy.

"We actually had a great time."

The artist, who has painted Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley in the past, then turned his student, who he said had "real potential", into his muse. He explained: "While I was teaching him to paint I said to how would you react to me asking you to sit?

"He said it would be an honour."

Pitt's portrait, which shows him looking long-haired and dishevelled as it was done just after the star finished filming World War Z, now joins a host of other oversize paintings by Davidson, whose work has been exhibited worldwide.

And Pitt is continuing to inspire Davidson's work as he said he was now working on painting him with a shorter, cleaner hairstyle.

A permanent exhibition of Davidson's work is on display at The Lyric Theatre in Belfast, where he personally presented his work to HM the Queen and the President of Ireland during the Royal visit to Northern Ireland in 2012.

Davidson's work has been exhibited in the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In 2012 he won the Visitors' Choice Award.

Eamonn Mallie Meets will be broadcast on Irish TV at 10pm on Sunday night. It is available on Sky and Freeview at channel 191, Freesat channel 400, and at www.irishtv.ie

Belfast Telegraph

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