Trish has never been seen in public before. No more than Sharon, Janet, Debbie, Denise, Donna, Jacqui, Joanne, Kim, Lorraine, Mandy, Paula, Sandra or Tina.
But for the next two weeks, these 14 works of art by pop star Robbie Williams and his creative partner Ed Godrich will be on display at Sotheby’s in central London.
Their curious titles – all female names that were popular when Williams was a schoolboy in Stoke-on-Trent – aren’t the only common thread in the works. The large-format black and white images, the fruit of a five-year collaboration, are strikingly thematic.
“Robbie and Ed refer to the paintings as a working family,” said Hugo Cobb, contemporary art specialist at Sotheby’s. “They are all created in the same visual language. But when you stand before them, you see that they have a different character. Each image definitely has a specific visual mood.
“Coherence, ambition and authenticity are the three things I think of when I find myself in front of these works.
Another painting by the same group, Beverly, was sold by Sotheby’s last month for £40,000 – double the presale estimate – to a private foundation in Central America.
Williams said the pair are now “ready to share our creative vision with the world.” He wanted people to “feel a sense of positivity…be intrigued, feel curious, and spot new features every time they look at each painting.”
Using the nickname Williams Godrich, the collaborators painted the 14 works on huge polystyrene panels — a medium that gives them a “unique texture”, Cobb said — creating layers of detail.
“All of the characters are in our head and come to life as the painting develops,” Godrich said. “Sometimes a figure will emerge by mistake, or part of a figure will come by chance because of the direction of a particular brushstroke.
“Robbie might see something completely different when it’s his turn to draw; this is why our work takes on several narratives. He will add a little and I will add a little until we end up with a completely unique being.
According to Williams, the titles of the paintings came about because “we like the obscurity of those names that were very popular then but aren’t so common now. For us, these are names that define the 1980s, an influential era that inspired our art.
In a The Sotheby’s video, he said his interest in art was sparked by album covers. “I didn’t realize it was art at the time, I was just intrigued by the images in front of me…So I guess my first love of art was through music .”
He and Godrich had formed an “art group”, he added. Art was “a great experience for me to be creative in a different vehicle”.
Williams, who amassed a huge fortune from record sales and concerts, built up a personal art collection. This year he sold two works by Banksy for a total of £7million. The sales were meant to free up space so he could buy “new art from new people” and help fund his own work, he said.
Cobb said Williams Godrich’s debut was an exciting time. “Robbie and Ed are very serious about this. This is not a one-off project – they have invested a huge amount of energy and time into their work. As for their future collection, that remains to be seen.