Melissa Mailer Yates describes how shem managed to capture Rick Wakeman on canvas:
“We first met Rick Wakeman at the Birmingham Town Hall event, and we had a lot to talk about, especially as I had been a big Yes and Strawbs fan when I was young. Thinking we had actually lost touch with him when it came to organising RockFace, it was a pleasant surprise when he contacted us by email to say he would be more than happy to take part in the project. We took a trip to Cheltenham to watch his one-man show, quite brilliant, and after the show we chatted and he gave me his mobile number to organise things
Eventually Rick Wakeman suggested we meet at his gig in Mansfield as it is quite near Birmingham. I suppose living in Norfolk allows you to call anything close to Birmingham, but as I live in Hereford it proved to be quite a trip. However, it was more than worth it. I arrived in Mansfield on a lovely sunny May evening, and was pleasantly surprised that everyone was already alerted to the fact that I was expected. Rick Wakeman however was late due to his Sat/Nav screwing up.
What a gentleman Rick Wakeman is. Despite being very pushed for time he gave me all the shots and poses that I needed, he got his cloak out on request, and even posed for a photo of us with me under it. Fascinatingly he shares the same birth date with Toyah, May 18th, but older of course. He had a great crew with him as well, I was really looked after, and got to watch more of Rick’s performance sat with Ian the ‘sound’ guy.
The painting was something else. All I could think of was how multi-layered Rick’s music is. I had to take a lot of time over this to make sure I could fill the canvas with a reflection of that layering, thus I embarked on a process of hearing the different facets of his music and trying to express it over and over again. Thus the canvas comprises of so many different layers, you can look at it for hours to discover more and more, just as listening to his music you keep on discovering more and more.
The actual portrayal of the man was powerful with the cloak to substantiate it, and I had a particularly kind face shot that he believes makes him younger. In actuality, when he is performing he becomes a different person and his face does transcend his expected ‘grumpy old man’ persona. In itself it is an amazing experience to photograph a musician whilst they are playing an instrument, this was certainly true of Rick.”