AN EASTBOURNE artist will follow in the footsteps of contemporary heavyweights such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin when his work goes on display at a London art gallery.
Barry Wilson, pictured, beat off 5,000 competitors to a $1,000 prize and will see his painting of Bank Tube station, join the pantheon of influential work to feature in the Saatchi Gallery in King’s Road, London.
Mr Wilson of Chatsworth Gardens used a friend’s picture of the 1900 tube station as inspiration for the award-winning image.
Since winning the Showdown, 42-year-old Mr Wilson, whose work has featured in the Tate Modern, has been inundated with messages of congratulations and support for his work on the Saatchi website.
“It’s quite bizarre, I keep getting all these people in this virtual world who I don’t know sending me messages of support.”
Mr Wilson, who creates special plaster finishes for luxury homes across Europe, exchanged his plastering tools for his paint brush and palette for the winning piece. His painting, devised by working on a gold leaf base and depicting a single figure at the end of an empty underground walkway, impressed both judges and online voters.
“A lot of my paintings have someone in them. It gives it more of a story, it gives it more depth somehow.
“It makes people think, ‘I wonder what they’re talking about, what are they doing?’. The lone figure could be someone going home from work.”
Although it is this piece of art which could prove the springboard to greater recognition, it is Mr Wilson’s paintings of Eastbourne – produced at his studio in Old Town – which have proved his bread and butter.
While some of the town’s galleries have passed up on the opportunity to exhibit his work in the past, London art-lovers show a greater appreciation for his trademark theme of decaying architectural splendour.
“It’s quite weird that people in London like the paintings of Eastbourne. It’s not necessarily people from here that are buying them,” he said.
Mr Wilson is now preparing for an exhibition in Dubai.