Showbiz stars on guest list

An invitation to Graham Ibbeson's Art of Comedy exhibition in London.
An invitation to Graham Ibbeson's Art of Comedy exhibition in London.

Ant and Dec are among a galaxy of stars invited to an exhibition by man who created the Eric Morecambe Statue.

Graham Ibbeson will host ‘The Art of Comedy’ at the gallery in London where Sir Winston Churchill once sat for a portrait.

Invitations to the display at the Lavery Room, South Kensington, have also gone out to Miranda Hart, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Cliff Richard and Sir Terry Wogan.

Items on display will include prototypes of the Eric statue held in storage for safekeeping by The Visitor since the iconic landmark was unveiled on Morecambe promenade by the Queen in 1999.

They were returned to Graham last year at the launch of a campaign for a new bronze wall relief of Morecambe and Wise.

Half the profits from sales at the exhibition will go to the ‘Morecambe Gets Wise’ fund.

The display, which runs from October 6 to 8, will also feature fine artwork and original studies by the Barnsley sculptor.

“There will be the original sketch I did for the Eric Morecambe statue and a fibreglass version of the statue itself,” said Graham.

“I’ve also got a lifesize Laurel and Hardy and a Benny Hill I did for Southampton.

“There is also a portrait of Les Dawson, a small maquette of Norman Wisdom, a working study of the Morecambe and Wise wall art and my gallery work, some of which has been seen all over the world.”

Graham also hopes to sell a bronze version of ‘The Boot’ – based on the Eric statue’s standing foot left behind after the landmark was vandalised last October.

“Miranda Hart, and Ant and Dec have said they will come, depending on their schedules,” he said.

“A lot of avid collectors of Eric and Ernie memorabilia and my own clients have been invited too.

“Hopefully it could raise a lot of money for the campaign.”

Bottles of Sunshine Ale, brewed by Morecambe’s Cross Bay Brewery, will be available for guests.

Graham has created a special bottle opener with a logo of Eric Morecambe for the occasion.

The ‘Morecambe Gets Wise’ campaign aims to raise £70,000 to reunite Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise on a free-standing 10ft high bronze relief.

Fundraisers hope this will be sited on Morecambe seafront and unveiled next summer to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the comedy double act’s first gig together in 1941.

They aim to create a ‘Sunshine Garden of Fame’ containing plaques inscribed with the names of celebrity friends and admirers of Eric and Ernie, as well as local businesses and supporters of the project.

Other fundraising events have been held in Morecambe, including The Visitor’s Sunshine Ball last May.

The Lavery Room in Cromwell Place, London, was once the studio of celebrated painter Sir John Lavery.

Winston Churchill, King George V, Oscar Wilde and many others sat for portraits there.