Artist’s fundraising wish for Ariana Grande portrait

Artist Rob Newbiggin with his portrait of Ariana Grande, which is nearing completion.
Artist Rob Newbiggin with his portrait of Ariana Grande, which is nearing completion.

An artist was so moved by the aftermath of the Manchester terror attack that he was inspired to create a portrait of Ariana Grande.

Now Rob Newbiggin hopes the pop star will meet up with him to endorse his work so he can raise money for families who were affected.

Mr Newbiggin would also love to see the finished picture go on display in the Manchester Arena – where 22 people were killed by a suicide bomber after a concert by Miss Grande on May 22.

The artist’s previous high profile work, a portrait of the comedian and Morecambe’s favourite son Eric Morecambe, was unveiled in Morecambe Town Hall in 2015.

“I was so upset about what happened in Manchester,” said Mr Newbiggin, who lived in Morecambe for many years and whose eight-year-old daughter attends Great Wood school.

“I was tearful doing the portrait. As an artist you do get very emotional.

“I was emotional about the Eric Morecambe one but this was totally different.”

The portrait, which is close to completion, shows Miss Grande looking at a worker bee, the symbol of Manchester’s industrial past.

“I’ve done a tear in one eye and another tear going down her other cheek,” he said.

“These are big dreams, but I’m going to try to get in touch with her manager, Scooter Braun.

“The idea is that I get hold of her, I want her to get actively involved. I’d like her to meet up with me.

“I’d like her to sign it, that would be nice. Then I want it to go somewhere prominent. “This has nothing to do with personal financial gain. This is a tribute.

“I would like proceeds from selling prints to go to the Manchester victims and the original to go somewhere, a landmark place.

“The Manchester Arena would be very appropriate.”

Mr Newbiggin also said he hoped to paint a portrait of Saffie Rose Roussos, the youngest victim of the Manchester attack, to go on display at her school.

Eight-year-old Saffie went to Tarleton Community Primary, near where Rob now lives in Southport.

“My daughter is eight and goes to Great Wood school, she’s the same age as little Saffie,” said Rob.

“When the time is right it would be really nice to do a really nice portrait of Saffie.”

Mr Newbiggin’s daughter Mercedes was one of the 50,000 people in the crowd at Old Trafford cricket ground for the One Love concert, held on June 4 to raise money for people affected by the attack.

Rob, who previously lived on Beaufort Road in Morecambe, was commissioned to produce the Eric Morecambe portrait in 2015 by David Brayshaw, businessman and chairman of Morecambe Carnival committee.

The finished work was based on a photograph of Eric chosen by his family.

“I used to love Eric and I remember my dad trying to mimic him,” said the artist at the time.

Mr Newbiggin, 52, also had a career as a semi-professional boxer.

He competed in around 200 fights on the unlicensed, or ‘white collar’ boxing circuit including on the first boxing show in decades at the Winter Gardens in Morecambe in 2012. He also boxed professionally and once sparred with former world champion Ricky Hatton.