Aylesbury Waterside Theatre announces evening with residential artist showcasing poignant pre and post-lockdown paintings

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre has announced it is hosting an evening with its residential artist showcasing his work carried out throughout lockdown.

By James Lowson
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 4:09 pm

Peter Keegan became the first ever residential artist at the Aylesbury venue in 2019 meaning he has captured the theatre at a turbulent time for the arts industry.

His time at the theatre is drawing to a close, with the installation of the final and largest canvas which focuses on the front of house staircase leading up to the circles.

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Aylesbury Waterside Theatre residential artist Peter Keegan in front of his paintings

On Thursday 26 May guests will get the chance to see his work on display and get firsthand insight on Peter’s work.

Peter was hired to capture the theatre as it neared and celebrated its 10th anniversary in October 2020.

But due to the unforeseen pandemic, much of Peter’s art has captured the business at a time of uncertainty.

An Ambassador Theatre Group spokesman said: “His artistry has unwittingly reflected an era in the industry never to have been experienced before.

Peter capturing a post-Covid front of house briefing

"During the last few months before Covid-19 the theatre was thriving with sold out pantomime performances, buzzing backstage corridors, packed bars and a programme full of productions and events.

"Peter painted the last standing concert 48 hours before the Government’s closure was announced in March 2020.”

Peter returned to the venue during the year-and-a-half closure, when only a single staff member was working in the venue, maintaining the sleeping building.

Peter with Andy Collins, photo by Derek Pelling

A painting captured during lockdown will be on show during the upcoming exhibition.

The spokesman added: “His lockdown painting perfectly captured the tone of the time – being held in suspension, yet the auditorium still looked immaculate, patiently waiting to fulfil its purpose once more.”

Peter explained why the role appealed to him, saying: “I’ve always been passionate about theatre and was keen to explore all the different areas of the venue and its operation, from backstage to front of house, seeing what captured my artistic eye.

"I planned to create a series of revealing paintings reflecting the wide variety of roles and events that take place inside such a beautiful and dynamic venue.”

Paintings shown won’t just be from times of closure, but also the theatre’s revival reopening.

"A particularly poignant canvas depicts the Front of House Team attending their routine pre-show briefing,” the spokesman says.

"Staff are masked as per company policy at reopening, and the natural line of staff standing to attention perfectly reflects the almost-military operation of every show. A sight to behold, yet never seen by the public eye.”

Peter will describe his process from conception to fulfilment with its quirks along the way.

The exhibition will run from 6.45pm – 7.30pm, guests will receive a complimentary drink on arrival.

There will then be a seated presentation by Peter starting at 7.30pm in the Norman Bragg Studio, which concludes with a live painting demonstration.

Tickets are available now, more information is available on the Ambassador Theatre Group website, bookings can also be made by calling 0844 871 7615.

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