Tommy Bowe captured in ‘meloncholy’ mood by artist

Surrealistic portrayal ‘intriguing’, says Ireland winger


Ireland and Ulster winger Tommy Bowe is expecting some ribbing from his colleagues when, as he hopes, he returns from injury well before the end of the Six Nations rugby tournament.

Three quirky portraits of the rugby star by Northern Irish artist Stephen Johnston are to be unveiled in Belfast tonight, with Bowe attending.

Bowe, who is unavailable for Sunday’s opening game against Scotland through injury, reckons the surrealistic nature of the paintings will generate comment among his sporting colleagues.

“His concept of portraying me as a soldier going into battle is intriguing but I think I might take a bit of stick from my teammates for relaxing in a wheelbarrow, and especially for carrying a large melon instead of a rugby ball,” said Bowe ahead of tonight’s launch in the Merchant Hotel.

“I was frankly a bit apprehensive about having my portrait done. But I have to confess to be being not only relieved but actually quite pleased with the outcome,” he added.

Johnston says he likes to engage the viewer with drama, intrigue and humour.

“My work has been particularly inspired by the classic and modern surrealists, and from observation of everyday life and objects, such as films, nature, books and stories,” said the 26-year-old Lisburn- based artist.

Johnston didn’t quite explain why he depicted the Irish, Lions and Ulster ace wearing a soldier’s tin hat, relaxing in a wheelbarrow and carrying that melon. “I’m fas- cinated by the athleticism and vulnerability of world-class sportsmen such as Tommy, [and] the huge demands on the top players of a magnificent but often brutal and combative contact sport,” he said.