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Main pages: Diana painting • Photos • Marriage photos • Modern Art Oxford
Also on this site:
Saatchi and Vine • Marriage press • Vanishing blog • Trafalgar Sq demo • Billy Childish • Rivington Gallery
External sites: Arty interview with Stella Vine • Cathy Lomax blogspot • Transition Gallery • Saatchi Gallery
On this page: Introduction • Statement
This page was created in 2004 to address issues arising at that time. There have been some updates since.

"Stella Vine...was a protégée of the Stuckist movement" - The Independent article here
"Stella Vine...began painting...as member of the Stuckists" - The Guardian
"Stuckism... discovered her" - The Times

"She started painting four years ago, taking evening classes in life drawing at an art school, but it is Thomson, who co-founded the Stuckist movement (which believes only powerful, emotional paintings are true art), who takes the credit for Vine's raw, childlike style." - The Evening Standard article here

I used to read English news papers and first saw Stella Vine at The Saatchi gallery... then, when I saw the Stuckists' paintings, I thought: "oh, they're painting like Stella Vine!" I didn't know that she was married to Mr Thomson and was inspired by the 'Stuckist School'. - Elaine K. Bond on Daniel North blog (12.1.07)


Stella Vine and her paintings of Princess Diana (Hi Paul Can You Come Over) and of Rachael Whitear, both purchased and exhibited by Charles Saatchi in 2004, received worldwide media coverage. Saatchi's media power promoted her as his "discovery". In fact she had been "discovered" and her work considerably influenced by the Stuckists three years before this date. She went to a talk by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson on Stuckism in June 2000. From May to November 2001, she participated in the Stuckists: her work was exhibited for the first time, both in this country and abroad, in Stuckist shows; she took part in a Stuckist demonstration; she aided the Stuckist work in the General Election; she founded a Stuckist group.

It should be noted that the intent of this page is not to undermine Stella Vine's work (and we do not consider that it does) but to record accurately a part of her history which she has not acknowledged, and to give due credit to people who helped and influenced her at a critical early stage in her artistic development.


(and ex-husband of Stella Vine)

Stella's work changed virtually overnight when she was introduced to the Stuckist way of art. She is now being promoted by Charles Saatchi as a stand-alone (and his discovery) without any acknowledgement about the origin of her style and ideas.

When people later see Stuckist work - and we have a major show at the Walker and Lady Lever Galleries for the Liverpool Biennial in September this year - I am seriously concerned that the response will be "it's like Stella Vine's work". This is exactly what has already happened as regards Tracey Emin and Billy Childish.

Stella's work - which I should point out I admire (and strongly encouraged) - still bears its Stuckist influences so visibly that I consider it a serious threat that our artistic and philosophical identity could be hijacked under our very noses.

This would compromise not only my position but that of a number of artists whose work over the last 25 years has resulted in the artistic approach that was imparted freely to Stella in order to stimulate her creativity when she joined the Stuckists in 2001.

Ann Bukantas, the Curator of Fine Art at the Walker Gallery identified Stella Vine's painting of Princess Diana
Hi Paul Can You Come Over
as a Stuckist painting as soon as she saw the image in the press, and commented,
"It jumps off the page at you as that."
She was very familiar with the range of Stuckist work from preparing at that time for The Stuckists Punk Victorian show
at the Walker during the 2004 Liverpool Biennial.


The two major influences on Stella Vine's painting

Hi Paul Can You Come Over
by Stella Vine
Billy and Traci
by Billy Childish
(owned by Stella Vine)

The Drinker
by Billy Childish

Sir Nicholas Serota Makes an Acquisitions Decision
by Charles Thomson
Why Doesn't MrRichards Seduce Me
by Charles Thomson
Stella Vine, Charles Thomson, Billy Childish outside Childish's house in Chatham, August 2001

Two major influences
Hi Paul Can You Come Over
by Stella Vine is a synthesis of her two major influences, Billy Childish and Charles Thomson, through whom she has fused her own means of expression.

Billy Childish
Childish was the model and inspiration for her to take up painting in the first place. She felt so ardently about his output that she bought two paintings in 2001, even though she was barely scraping by financially. His seemingly chaotic and urgent brushwork was the starting point for how she applies paint and the connection is still obvious. The colour range is also comparable, as is the frequent darkness of subject matter with haunted isolated faces.

Even his speed has been taken on - both artists have remarkably succeeded in finishing some works in fifteen minutes (the time Hi Paul took). Childish's explanation for this is that is releases unconscious material.

Charles Thomson
From Charles Thomson came ideas. Sir Nicholas Serota Makes an Acquisitions Decision is already a well-known painting. Vine was certainly familiar with this and its media profile, having been shown the press cuttings in which it appeared by Thomson himself.

The poweful appeal of a public figure's private thoughts expressed on canvas has not escaped her, whether this was a conscious or merely unconsciously assimilated model.

The closeness of her thinking to his is apparent from earlier works by Thomson. Compositionally Hey Paul is a mirror image of Thomson's Why Doesn't Mr Richards Seduce Me. The theme of the isolated woman yearning for male company is identical too.

Stella Vine
Vine's twist is the particular woman chosen and her own memorable text - and the fact that she made a composite of influences from Childish and Thomson.

School of Stuckism
There is a 'school of Stuckism' to which Vine belongs regardless of any formal affiliation (which she no longer has - nor, for that matter does Childish, a co-founder of the movement with Thomson).

Ann Bukantas, Fine Art Curator, the Walker, Liverpool
So apparent is this that the painting was recognised as Stuckist on first sight by Ann Bukantas, the Fine Art Curator of the Walker Gallery, Liverpool. She is currently curating a show of Stuckist work for September's Liverpool Biennial, so is highly aware of the qualities that permeate Stuckist work. She commented, "it just jumps off the page as that."

The continuing influence

Transcriptions of Gainsborough
Charles Thomson painted a transcription of Gainsborough's The Hon. Frances Duncombe in 1999. Stella Vine was given a reproduction of this in 2001. In 2004, she she painted a transcription of Gainsborough's Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, choosing the same three-quarter length pose and a virtually identical (but mirror image) composition . She was present in Thomson's studio in 2001 while he was working on Gainsborough transcriptions, which were bought by Deutsche Bank soon after. .

Mrs Siddons
(after Gainsborough)
by Charles Thomson
Frances Duncombe
(after Gainsborough)
by Charles Thomson
(after Gainsborough)
by Stella Vine

Thomson's comment on Gainsborough (2003, statement for Deutsche Bank):
"They are... psychological depictions...I wondered what was beneath the faηade".
Vine's comment on Gainsborough (2004, Arty 15):
"you can see the character beneath the beauty, he was trying to say something"

Prozac and Private Views
Stuckism was launched in the national media in 1999 with the Gainsborough transcription by Charles Thomson The Hon. Frances Duncombe reproduced on the cover of the Sunday Times Culture supplement (which Stella Vine was given a copy of). The key image on the Transition Gallery website promoting Vine's solo show Prozac and Private Views (10 June - 4 July 2004) is now her transcription of Gainsborough's Georgiana.

Gainsborough's image of remote and superficial Eighteenth Century high society makes him an unlikely choice of artist for a contemporary practitioner. However, attention was drawn to other aspects of him in the Stuckist manifesto Handy Hints (Childish/Thomson 11.4.00), Appendix (iii), Recommended Study:
Thomas Gainsborough 1727 - 1788 He started off painting quite badly, he painted in his own way, his own style and technique. Gainsborough pioneered landscape painting by painting landscapes when it was completely unfashionable and nobody bought them. An Influence on Turner.

Thomson has painted six Gainsborough transcriptions (five of which are on pages here and here) and over made over forty transcription drawings.

The example of other Stuckists

by Stella Vine
Two Dogs (detail)
by Wolf Howard

I Will Always Love You (detail)
by Stella Vine

Until the Last Dog Is Hung (detail)
by Joe Machine
Two Dogs Fighting
by Wolf Howard
Catherine [Deneuve]
by Stella Vine
Diana Dors with a Machine Gun (detail)
by Joe Machine
Diana Dors with an Axe (detail)
by Joe Machine
My Grandfather Will Fight You (detail)
by Joe Machine
Sailor on a Sea of Sex
by Joe Machine
Until the Last Dog Is Hung (detail)
by Joe Machine

Wolf Howard
Stella Vine exhibited and invigilated at the Vote Stuckist show in Brixton in 2001 at a crucial stage in her development. It was her introduction to a group of visual artists, and had a galvanising effect on her. Ideas and images not present in her work before that time have continued to emerge since, and in her first solo show of work Prozac and Private Views (Transition Gallery, June 2004).

Cats and dogs are normally considered twee subjects, but Wolf Howard showed how they could be painted with conviction and insight, showing humour, sensitivity and pathos. The detail from his Two Dogs shows a clear precedent for Vine's Lucy with its strong black face and doleful eyes depicted full on. Howard three years later has painted an angry aggressive dog, and Vine, quite independently, has followed a parallel course as seen in I Will Always Love You.

Joe Machine
Also exhibited in the Vote Stuckist show was Joe Machine's Until the Last Dog is Hung. The dog with bloody bared teeth has reappeared in Vine's I Will Always Love You.

Even more remarkable from the same Machine painting is the dead dog. It has blood running from its mouth, a detail not seen in Vine's work at the time, but now her 'trademark' from her painting of Princess Diana onwards. Blood was something of a trademark for Machine for years before, as is evident in the other details above.

He also demonstrated the viability of recycling iconic blonde movie stars and that there was artistic life for them beyond Warhol. His choice was Diana Dors. Some years later, Vine settled on Catherine Deneuve.


Mark D, was somewhat taken aback by the striking similarity between the position of the lettering on his painting of Billy Childish (far left) and on one by Stella Vine of Princess Diana which appeared several weeks later (near left). Last year Mark D attemped to buy a painting from her and was told to "go fuck yourself". Read about it here. Mark D is a collector and also a guest artist whose work appears on this site. Vine's painting was sold to George Michael for £25,000, according to The Sun (30.8.05) and Hello!.

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The transformation of Stella Vine's art
Stella Vine with her work in Vote Stuckist show, Fridge Gallery, Brixton, June 2001: portrait heads from Hampstead School of Art
Doodle by Stella Vine in Charles Thomson's notebook, circa June 2001: strippers and punters
Drawing by Charles Thomson of Stella Vine drawing, 5 July 2001.
She is drawng a strip club scene.
Drawing by Charles Thomson of Stella Vine drawing, 15 July 2001.
She is drawing a stripper and a masturbating priest.
Drawing by Charles Thomson of Stella Vine drawing, 15 July 2001.
She is drawing Billy Childish performing (from memory)
Stripper by Charles Thomson, January 2002, based on a painting by Stella Vine, July 2001

Hampstead School of Art
The photo shows Stella Vine with her first ever exhibited paintings as part of the Vote Stuckist show in 2001. These are the paintings from her Hampstead School of Art classes. There is straightforward subject matter of portrait heads and a life model. Childish's influence is apparent in the self-portrait (first column, middle picture) and the life painting beneath it. The other paintings are tighter in execution, trying out different styles, as one might expect from a beginner painter.

Charles Thomson's studio
Charles Thomson included her work in the exhibiton. He says, "I thought she had potential but it wasn't being realised in her work, which lacked imagination. I noticed she was continually doodling in her diary various scenes from strip clubs or hostess bars. There was an aliveness and startling frankness and inventivess about these doodles. I told her that she should be making these the basis of her painting, that she should let her real emotions guide her imagery, have faith in her own thoughts and be true to her life experiences - in other words the philosophy that is embodied in the Stuckist manifestos."

The doodle above is typical of many that Vine passed away time with. Thomson pointed out the artistic potential of such spontaneity, and her work was transformed. Her drawings (recorded in his sketches of her) clearly show the shift that has occurred within less than a month.

The first drawing shows her sketchbook with a scene from a strip club, along the lines of her doodles. The next is a stripper and a masturbating priest - suddenly life experiences and her reactions to them become the pivot of her expression. The third is a portrait from memory of Billy Childish performing at the private view at the Fridge Gallery six weeks earlier. Its emotional power contrasts dramatically with the reserved faces she had previously painted, and led in time to the angst-drenched portrait of Princess Diana.

Her first two paintings in the new mode were done in Thomson's studio at his then home in Finchley. He provided technical advice on the process of oil painting, and also discussed aspects of colour, composition and paint handling, whilst working alongside her.

The first one showed a strip club customer with a stiletto heel being ground into his forehead. The second, with a provisional title of The Great Whore of London was in a pose which Thomson later used in his own painting Stripper, shown above.

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It was widely reported that Stella Vine had never sold a painting before. This may be true, but it is a disingenuous statement.

  • Stella Vine had never sold a painting before but not for lack of interest
  • She had never sold a painting because she refused to
  • In 2001 she had the offer of all her work being bought regularly so she could live off it and support herself
  • She turned down this offer and preferred to go back to stripping for a living

Charles Thomson, the co-founder of Stuckism and then married to her (they were living in their own homes), made this offer to her (and recorded it in his diary on 27 September 2001). She said she wanted to keep her work for a one-woman show. He said in that case he would retain it until such a show and they would share the profits of any subsequent sales. She said no.

Vine has said, "I didn't think anyone else would believe in me."

The following occured specifically through her association with the Stuckists (May-November 2001).....

  • Her work was exhibited for the first time - in the Vote Stuckist show at the Fridge Gallery, Brixton (31 May - 28 June 2001).
  • She was invited to join the Stuckists and found a group which she did (the Westminster Stuckists, listed on the site 12.6.01, renamed The Unstuckists 10.7.01. See below).
  • She wrote, "Rafelle... said he liked my pictures, this is a first !!!!!!" (email, 27 June 2001)
  • She said , "Thanks for all the encouragement with the painting,and i really enjoyed being with you in the galleries etc…….You are an incredible person.I am shell shocked by everything that has happened." (email to Charles Thomson, 1 July 2001)
  • She was also encouraged by other Stuckist artists eg Philip Absolon who gave her one of his life drawings
  • Her name appeared in the press for the first time - as a Stuckist artist - in the Evening Standard (20.8.01), with her endorsement, in a story about her marriage.
  • She was interviewed by Now TV arts channel (though this was not broadcast)
  • She was being filmed for a BBC2 documentary about her marriage (left unfinished because the marriage ended)
  • She was invited to promote her work by Charles Thomson alongside his as an 'art couple'. She accepted and he paid off her debts to give her the freedom to pursue her art.
  • She had her first solo show at the Rivington Gallery (one afternoon only by invite during her wedding reception)
  • She was one of the selected artists for the Addaction charity show at Panter & Hall Gallery, Mayfair (11.9.01)
  • She was exhibited internationally in the Paris Stuckist show, Musee d'Adzac, curated by Elsa Dax, Paris Stuckists (19 Oct - 16 Nov 2001). Photo of the show
  • She was one of the two featured artists for the Stuckists Real Turner Prize Show 2001 at the Rivington Gallery, Shoreditch (she withdrew shortly before the show was hung, but not before her name had appeared in print in some listings, including What's On In London) in preference to more established artists.

The decision to dissasociate herself from the Stuckists and this promotion of her was entirely her own.

The Daily Telegraph reported "she claims she never shared his [Charles Thomson's Stuckist] views".

  • She attended a talk on Stuckism on 20 June 2000 by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson, at the Salon des Arts, Kensington (photos here), so she was fully aware of the anti-conceptual art stance of the Stuckists. The talk was promoted by the Institute of Ideas.
  • She founded the Westminster Stuckists group in May 2001. She was invited to do this on at the private view of the Vote Stuckist show (30.5.01). Web archives on Stuckism: home page shows Westminster Stuckists listed on 12.6.01. Groups page lists her as the founder. News page records renaming of Westminster Stuckists to The Unstuckists (10.7.01). Theunstuckists.com domain name registered here.
  • She took part in the Stuckist demonstration against Rachel Whiteread's Plinth in Trafalgar Square 4 June 2001. Getty Images photo and with SP Howarth photo.
  • She was a helper for the Stuckist Party, General Election (7.6.01) when Charles Thomson stood on an anti-Britart ticket against the then Culture Minister, Chris Smith in Islington South.
  • She said Tracey Emin's work lacked 'vision, generosity and compassion' (Charles Thomson, diary 2.7.01)
  • She said Billy Childish had "a huge impact on my life, and for that I am truly grateful" web blogspot (24.2.04)
  • Billy Childish (now ex-) Stuckist co-founder said, "Me and Charles's views on art are pretty much the same views, regardless of any stylistic differences.The only thing I really disagreed with Charles on was his marketing ideas." (March 2004)

In the press and on TV interviews she has acknowledged only some painting classes at Hampstead School of Art as her art foundation. Her art actually had far stronger influences in its formation from being involved with Stuckist artists:.

  • Billy Childish's work and example was the model and inspiration for her to paint (she also bought a guitar and an old valve amplifier based on his ideas on music)
  • She bought two paintings by Billy Childish in June 2001 specifically as an inspiration for her work
  • The influence of his painting style is still clearly evident in her current work - vigorous, expressive and often crude brush work
  • Her colour range stays within similar parameters to his
  • She also works quickly as he does - both artists have managed to complete a painting in fifteen minutes - (Childish's explanation for this is that it releases unconscious material)
  • She visited Billy Childish's studio in Whitstable on 26 August 2001.
  • She was painting standard portrait heads at Hampstead School of Art when she met Charles Thomson in 2001
  • Charles Thomson tutored her and gave her new ideas based on the Stuckist approach to art - to open up to her emotions and make an uncensored direct expression of her experiences
  • She worked alongside him in his studio, where he advised her on composition, colour and technique as she painted
  • She said to him, "Thanks for all the encouragement with the painting, and i really enjoyed being with you in the galleries etc…….You are an incredible person.I am shell shocked by everything that has happened." (Email 1 July 2001)
  • Her art took a radically new direction as a result
  • This is the direction she is continuing to follow with her current work with "real art that looks at the world around us... it's not all flowers and boxes of chocolates" (Stella Vine, BBC Radio 4, Front Row 16.3.04).
  • SP Howarth: "She went from these really ordinary portraits, and when Charles tutored her, they leapt forward and became something quite dynamic and exciting. 'Swinging from the Chandeliers' was a very good painting - in such a short time, she'd tapped into a much rawer nerve." SP (Stephen) Howarth, artist, poet and friend of the couple at the time. Stella was sufficiently impressed by SP's art to buy a painting from him.
  • Billy Childish: "Charlie was very keen for Stella to develop her style and to exhibit.... to encourage her to do her her paintings - to say 'this is worth doing and you should do it'... She really liked my stuff and Charlie certainly encouraged her to express herself more openly... I'm glad she gets inspiration from my work and ideas, and appreciate her acknowledging that.
  • Dan Paterson: "Stella said that Charles was helping her with her art - developing her style - coaching her - not exactly those words but words to that effect. She did seem happy when she said this, and seemed perfectly relaxed to be with Charles. A painting which she had apparently just finished was propped up against the wall of Charles' studio, near one of his half-finished Gainsborough transcriptions." Dan Paterson, art agent, met Thomson and Vine in 2001 in Thomson's studio.

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