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Ron Wood and Sally Humphreys. Photo: PA

Ron Wood and Sally Humphreys. Photo: PA

Ron Wood and Sally Humphreys. Photo: PA

Rolling Stones star Ronnie Wood is backing a campaign to erect a statue in honour of late Stillorgan-born portrait painter William Orpen.

Photographer Dominic Lee, who lives opposite the house where Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen grew up and is organising 
the campaign, said the rocker did not hesitate when he asked him to help out.

"I met him a couple of times and he was very happy to do it. He's an artist himself and he's one of Orpen's biggest collectors," he said.

"I found out yesterday that Bono is also a collector.

"Ronnie really is excited about the project and agreed to put his name to it."

Describing it as a "labour of love", Dominic has been leading the charge to have a bronze statue of Orpen erected in Stillorgan.

The late artist was best-known for his work during World War One when he was appointed as the official British war artist.

One of his paintings sold recently for €1.1m at auction.

Wood has agreed to officially unveil the statue when the project is eventually finished, which Dominic hopes will be some time in 2016.

Renowned artist Rowan Gillespie, who is behind the haunting Famine statues on Custom House Quay, is expected to take a year to fashion the Orpen statue.

Dominic said he has already raised €14,000, but reckons he will need four times that amount.

An exhibition of Orpen's work runs at the Stillorgan Village Centre, which includes 30 reproductions of some of his most famous paintings.

Dominic said he will take the show to London later this year as he continues drumming up publicity.

He has also persuaded some of Orpen's family to come on board his fundraising project.

He said: "William's grandson Richard Olivier is coming over to see me
 on September 6 and he'll donate three illustrated letters to sell at auction which Whytes on the Green have agreed to sell for us free of charge."

He said he hopes the money needed will be raised over the coming year and has ear-marked 2016 for the completion of the statue.

mfinn@herald.ie


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