Manics’ Nicky checks in on Tenby Museum artwork tribute

By Paul Evans   |   Content editor   |
Thursday 5th May 2022 11:47 am
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Nicky Wire
Nicky Wire at Tenby Museum and Art Gallery with the tribute artwork behind him (Tenby Museum and Art Gallery )

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Manic Street Preachers’ lyricist and bassist Nicky Wire recently called in to Tenby Museum and Art Gallery to view a new portrait of him by artist Jane Sanders and he graciously agreed to a photograph in front of the artwork (left) which is displayed next to his own that he donated to the Museum, together with ephemera from his first ever solo art exhibition in 2018 entitled Paintings and Polaroids.

Nicky said at the time: “It’s something I have wanted to do for a long time and Tenby Museum and Art Gallery really is the most perfect setting – its one of my favourite places to let my mind drift. This summer finally felt like the time was right to pull three decades worth of work together for this show.

“Some of the Polaroids are 25 years old and just fade before your eyes when they’re exposed. I love that whole thing – the vanishing world!” Several were what Nicky called “mini tributes to people and places that have given me comfort and inspiration of the years”.

This year, the Museum was the recipient of another work inspired by Nicky - this time a textile piece by Jane Sanders, who is based in Newcastle upon Tyne and sews portraits of musicians on her vintage Singer sewing machine in her kitchen - hence, she often works under the suitable name ‘Stitchin In The Kitchen’.

Jane has long been a fan of the Manics and has been fascinated by the visuals and fashions that surround the band. She gained inspiration for her work by the way that Nicky Wire often customised his jackets with patches and badges that fans had sent to him and she used this as her starting point. She started by sewing a portrait of Nicky in a plain black jacket.

In the summer of 2018 she put out a request to followers of the band to see if they would be willing to send her something that she could sew onto his jacket.

“I was unsure of the response I would get but pretty soon I was overwhelmed by donations from all over the UK and the world,” explained Jane.

“An unexpected surprise was the letters that accompanied the items, explaining the meaning of them, which was often quite emotional and personal. I quickly found out that the fans were like a family who supported each other, and I was touched by their generosity.

“The picture always felt like a collaborative project, and I wasn’t happy selling it to a private buyer when so many people had kindly contributed to it. I posted a short video online, asking the fans for suggestions for a public permanent home for Nicky.

“The most popular suggestion was Tenby Museum and Art Gallery. It is a place that has direct links with Nicky as he had his own exhibition here in 2018. In fact one of the donations stitched onto the jacket is a private view invitation from his show.

“Ultimately, I think, this portrait highlights the importance that music plays in people’s lives, and how a shared interest in a band can unite people into a family,” she added.

Mark Lewis curator at the Museum said of Nicky’s recent visit: “It was good to see him again enjoying Tenby and the museum.”

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