Boxing man to unveil Eric Morecambe on canvas

Rob Newbiggin in his studio while working on the Eric Morecambe portrait.
Rob Newbiggin in his studio while working on the Eric Morecambe portrait.
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The wife and daughter of Eric Morecambe will attend the unveiling of a new portrait of the famous comedian by a boxer and professional artist

The painting by Rob Newbiggin will be revealed at Morecambe’s Town Hall on Friday, August 14 between noon and 2pm.

Eric’s wife Joan, daughter Gail, and Coun Jon Barry, mayor of Lancaster, will be present.

Joan and Gail will be driven from the Midland Hotel in Eric’s restored vintage Rolls Royce by the comic’s former chauffeur, Mike Fountain.

The singer Ashleigh Wood will also perform her version of Morecambe and Wise’s famous tune ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ and there will be a drinks reception in the Mayor’s Parlour afterwards.

Rob’s Eric Morecambe portrait will go on permanent display in Morecambe Town Hall and be available to view by the public for years to come.

Rob, from Morecambe, said: “Gail says that in terms of importance this portrait is up there with the iconic statue of her father that sits on the promenade.

“She gave me a photograph of her father, taken three weeks before he died. From this I’ve tried to produce a personal portrait of Eric the family man, husband, father and regular citizen other than the expected Eric, the comedian.

“I hope it achieves national acclaim.”

The painting, which is not being fully revealed until the day itself, has been framed by Tom Chesters of Bay Framing, which is based in the town’s Festival Market, and who himself is related to Eric Morecambe.

The painting has been commissioned by Morecambe town councillors, David and Carla Brayshaw, who are big fans of Rob’s work.

Rob - born in Pennsylvania, USA - has spent most of his life in Lancashire.

He moved to Southport as a child and at school excelled at art and PE. He is now an artist and a British Boxing Board of Control licensed trainer.

He began painting when he was just seven years old.

“I copied bird illustrations and photographs and I became obsessed with bird watching and nature. “Soon I was copying from life, in natural surroundings, in particular at Southport Botanic Gardens, which has played an important role in my life.

“I went on to produce the 55ft long public mural there and will be adding to that on a voluntary basis.”

The ambitious painter says that he wants critics and the public to see the Eric Morecambe painting as the ultimate portrait of the comedian, who was born Eric Bartholomew in the resort in 1926.

Rob’s talents have garnered national attention in the press and on television.

He first came to prominence when he painted a huge mural in the house where he used to live in Skerton, Lancaster, which was inspired by Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel ceiling artwork.

He said: “Alongside my childhood fascination with wildlife I also loved Italian architecture and the art of Michelangelo.

“Even now I can look at a blank wall and imagine painting something from the Basilica, Pieta or Sistine Chapel. Once I am set on a project I don’t stop until it is finished. I was pleased with that mural at the time but now I am much more skilled!”

Rob has also been commissioned to create a mural of Morecambe motorbike star, John McGuinness, for a street art project on Victoria Street, Morecambe and has completed a mural at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary to help people with dementia.

He has two daughters, Mercedes, 11, who lives with him, and Sapphire, 6, who lives with her mum in Morecambe.

Rob began boxing in 1982 as an amateur and has competed at professional level. He’s sparred with former world champion, Ricky Hatton, and also walks out fighters out and in the corner for bouts on Sky Sports.