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VIDEO: Funnyman Harry Hill shows off his Hobby for Wirral Festival Of Firsts
MENTION the name Harry Hill and the last thing that probably comes to mind is his work as an artist.
The entertainer - who gave up a career in medicine to follow a showbusiness path - has earned a reputation as one of this country’s finest comedians, complete with trademark large collars and energetic style.
His work includes national tours, Harry Hill’s TV Burp, fronting You’ve Been Framed and the recent foray onto the big screen in the Harry Hill Movie.
But he is just as prolific with a paintbrush and will show off a selection of work from his My Hobby exhibition as part of Wirral’s Fourth Festival Of Firsts, which opens next Saturday (July 5).
The exhibition, which formed part of the Edinburgh Fringe Arts Festival in 2013, was unveiled to an invited audience at the Holiday Inn, Hoylake, on Thursday night.
His work reveals a parallel universe where celebrity and nature come together in surreal landscapes.
His subjects include Sir Bruce Forsyth, Cheryl Cole, Chris Tarrant and Sir Paul McCartney, whose Heswall-based photographer brother Mike is also exibiting a selection of his work during the festival.
Harry told the Globe: "I got this call out of the blue from the festival’s organiser John Gorman, and he asked me whether I’d be up for having these paintings in his exhibition.
"So I thought 'why not? It’ll be a laugh and gets them out of the house'.
"I've been to Liverpool a few times on tour, but had no idea really of the geography of Liverpool and the rural surroundings I’ve been missing out on."
Harry’s love of art began in school and was something he has honed over the years, drawing and painting for fun. It was "just knocking about", he said.
But it was after his guest appearance on fellow comic Frank Skinner's chat show in 1996 that it really took off.
He continued: "They give the show's guests a little present for taking part and gave me a box of oil paints, and that's when I really started to paint, wanted to get the hang of oil paints.
"I never went to any classes, but gradually worked out how to do it, just for fun.
"When your doing a painting, making up a pot and are focused on something other than comedy, in that sense it's a good therapy.
"A lot of people are self-conscious about it, and say 'oh no, I can't draw, I can’t do it'.
"The fun of drawing is that you don't have to show your work to anyone else. You can shove it in a draw."
Away from the easel, he is also planning a return to the stage and TV.
He said: "If you're going to do a tour, you need a bit of time to work on stuff. I've been in a situation before where you rush into a tour and are not quite ready for it.
"I've started doing a few gigs and worked out a few gags for that, I’m also developing some new TV ideas."
The Festival Of Firsts, showcasing the borough's artistic talents, takes place at venues in Hoylake, West Kirby and New Brighton from Saturday, July 5 ending on July 13.
Poetry performances, concerts, jazz parades, competitions, writing workshops and world premieres of plays will feature.
The programme for this year's showcase features appearances by Liverpool playwright Willy Russell.
Radio Merseyside presenter Johnny Kennedy will present his performance of Simply Shakespeare, a tribute to the Bard.
The Poetry Proms will take place in New Brighton on Sunday, July 6.
Hoylake will host a Music Proms on Saturday, July 12, and organisers would like to hear from anyone interested in taking part.
There will also be talks and art workshops in Hoylake Community Centre on July 13.
There will be concerts of classical and popular music, featuring performances from guitarist Craig Ogden, Wirral Ukulele Orchestra, C-City and the Dave Gilbertson Saxophone Ensemble.
Proceeds from this year’s festival will go to Claire House children’s hospice.
The full festival programme is now available from www.festivaloffirsts.com
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