By Fraser Ward
An internet rumour led people to believe he was dead but Neil Buchanan came to Brighton on Wednesday night to show his first ever collection of published fine art.
Photo used under creative commons from Sidereal
The creator behind the two-time BAFTA winning TV sensation Art Attack is in fact alive and well with his new collection entitled Hope Streeton display at J’adore Art for all to see.
The 12 limited edition prints are a nostalgic and evocative collection of art inspired by Neil’s childhood memories growing up in Liverpool in the early 1960s.
A Sussex resident for 15 years, the artist took time to describe his latest creations and every picture had its own unique caption with a story to tell.
He paid most attention to the young children, telling them the tale behind each print.
“I bet you’re too young to remember this… Can you see what’s happening here? We’re actually eating our dinner on a dustbin.”
Still as charming and inspiring as he was on screen it was like watching a live broadcast of Art Attack.
He called it ‘grown-up’ art compared to his work the public are used to seeing but if there was ever any doubt in Neil’s drawing and painting abilities they have now been cast aside.
All the pictures show a carefree boy and girl and I asked if they represented anyone in particular.
“It looks like me and my sister in Aintree, having our adventures around Liverpool. But the female figure would change growing up; it could be a friend or girlfriend.
“And some of the inspiration came from my own children, Molly and Fred.”
Neil Buchanan is a household name after presenting 500 episodes of Art Attack for over 17 years, being aired in over 30 countries and attracting six million viewers each week.
The show finished in 2007 and a year later a rumour started on Facebook that the artist had died of colon cancer.
Instead of dying he actually went back to his musical roots and revived his old heavy metal band from the 70s, Marseille.
They released a new album last year appropriately titled Unfinished Business and are touring at the moment.
Neil said: “I’m a musician first – that’s what runs through my blood. We’ve put it out independently and it’s the record we’ve always wanted to make.
“It’s good time heavy rock but with melody; imagine The Beatles but played by AC/DC.”
He explained how a lot of people are surprised when they find out that the nice man off the telly was in a heavy metal band.
They won the first ever battle of the bands competition which got them a record deal but three years later the company went into liquidation.
“We were the first of the so-called new wave of British heavy metal bands to go to the states, ahead of Def Leppard and Iron Maiden.
“It was like living the dream but we found ourselves living in Los Angeles one minute and then the next we were signing back on the dole in Liverpool.”
From being watched by 20,000-30,000 people every night in big American stadiums to millions of eager children on television, Neil Buchanan has led a diverse career.
A new series of Art Attack was launched this year on the Disney Junior channel but without Neil.
As a child who grew up watching the original show each week, the man in the big red jumper with his catchphrase “try it yourself!” will be very hard to replace.