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An Acting Artist’s Maiden Exhibition

Rebecca Grant: actress, singer and artist. An admirable combination. I catch up with Rebecca in the closing week of her maiden art exhibition, suitably named ‘An Actor’s Art’.

On ‘An Actor’s Night’ opening night, excited members of the Filipino community, friends and old colleagues of Rebecca’s from Holby City, and theatre productions ‘Bombay Dreams’ and ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ came together. The image of celebrity faces at an art exhibition opening at the Philippine Embassy is humbling, I panic slightly when I finally meet Rebecca in the flesh.

She tells me that just the evening before, she held a private viewing of the exhibition where several more of her works were auctioned off. Rebecca describes the ‘buzz’ of the bidders’ excitement during the auction, the public’s sign of appreciation for her art which has certainly put a smile on her face. I suspect her smile was also a returning sign of gratitude.

Rebecca’s artistic flair was first nurtured by her grandfather, Baron Raymond de Longueuil, a renowned French artist. She confesses with a laugh that her first ambition as a child was to be an animator. But she danced her way through childhood, developing her instinctive passions to act and sing more prominently rather than taking art – her hobby – ‘too seriously’. And that she did, receiving her first acting job in the production ‘Bombay Dreams’ when she was just nineteen.

Grant with actress Pilar Pilapil at the exhibition
Rebecca’s body of artwork developed and grew during rehearsal breaks. As the actors waited for direction and the stage to be rigged, Rebecca worked on portraits of her fellow thespians. The portraits, she explains, are of the characters and not the actors themselves. It is art ‘in role’. Though without being told, you can already see in each of her works, an intensity where the “quintessential idiosyncrasies” of the character are candidly exposed. Portraits from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ are confrontational, but in a way that’s captivating and honest. Rebecca describes her art as the window through which the outsider is looking in, an inspiration taken from Degas’ art. One can really imagine the character in each of Rebecca’s portrait as the actor on the stage looking into the audience with new eyes. The same energy and animation is seen in her paintings taken from her tours with the Jive Aces.

All Rebecca’s works collectively display her Cubist taste for fragmentation of colours and shapes, and a vivid photographic imagination. But she makes it clear that her education in institutional styles and concepts does not guide her hand too much when putting paintbrush to canvas. Credit though, is also due to her actor colleagues who inspired this particular compilation of art. Rebecca speaks highly of Robert Powell, “a lovely, lovely friend” for whom she dedicates a portrait, which was unveiled at the exhibition opening. Reminiscing, I learn that her first and last scene as Daisha Anderson in Holby City was shared with Robert.

The interview quickly becomes an indulgent conversation about the recognition of Philippine arts: from visual art to fashion. We sit in the gallery in agreed excitement of the growing prospects of Filipino artistic talent both in the UK and the Philippines. One final question: will Rebecca consider exhibiting more of her art, possibly in the Philippines? It is a definitive yes. Stay tuned!

*Some of Rebecca’s pieces from ‘An Actor’s Art’ are still on sale; money raised will go towards a school transport programme in the Philippines – project headed by the Padua Charitable Fund. For more information on Rebecca Grant, please visit her blog and website.
K.A.Cruz

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