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Portraits capturing Shane MacGowan’s final London visit up for auction

Shane MacGowan portrait by Dan Llywelyn Hall (Dan Llywelyn Hall/Encephalitis Society/PA)
Shane MacGowan portrait by Dan Llywelyn Hall (Dan Llywelyn Hall/Encephalitis Society/PA)

Two paintings of Shane MacGowan’s last visit to London are to be auctioned for charity the Encephalitis Society.

The Pogues’ frontman, who was best known for classic Christmas hit song Fairytale Of New York, died last week at the age of 65 following his diagnosis with encephalitis in 2022.

Portrait artist Dan Llywelyn Hall, who also painted Camden singer Amy Winehouse shortly before her death in 2011, said MacGowan was “blissfully kind of just in his own existence” when he met him in October last year.

Shane MacGowan portrait by Dan Llywelyn Hall (Dan Llywelyn Hall/Encephalitis Society/PA)

The musician had been in London for an exhibition of his work, called The Eternal Buzz And The Crock Of Gold, at the Andipa Gallery in Knightsbridge.

Llywelyn Hall added that MacGowan had a “really strong presence” and was “a bit of a polymath” who was creative outside of his music career.

The 43-year-old artist from North Wales said: “He struck me as someone who did everything on his own terms and didn’t make any compromises for anybody.

“There was all these sorts of people in there like Kate Moss was there… loads of these sort of A listers hanging around and he was blissfully in his own existence there, so that drawing was trying, I suppose, to just get this guru-esque looking figure that I wanted to convey.

“I hadn’t felt he’d been depicted in this sense before… every image you see of him is as this party crazed sort of guy… but in this occasion he kind of just looked a calm, self-assured guru person, which I liked as an image and something which people weren’t familiar with.

“(I’m) always trying to make an image that isn’t really in the public eye, I suppose.

“I had that when I did the Queen’s portrait.”

After initial sketches last year, Llywelyn Hall was supposed to have MacGowan sit for him again but this never transpired.

Llywelyn Hall has spoken about the sale to MacGowan’s wife Victoria Mary Clarke, who said on her Instagram that she had “feared” losing her husband “for a very long time,” following his death.

The two oil-on-paper paintings depict MacGowan juxtaposed on a black background, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and sunglasses.

One of them shows the musician vaping, with a puff of smoke emanating from his mouth.

U2 at Croke Park – Dublin
The paintings of the late Shane MacGowan will be on display at the Espacio Gallery in Brick Lane until Sunday (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ava Easton, chief executive of the Encephalitis Society, said: “Dan has really captured the spirit of Shane with his wonderful portraits.

“Shane’s words and music have been a huge part of the soundtrack of my life and I, along with millions around the world, will miss him.”

She added: “We are very grateful that Dan wants to honour his memory by sharing proceeds from the sale with The Encephalitis Society, which will be used to support others whose lives have been impacted by this often devastating condition.”

The works can be viewed until Sunday at Espacio Gallery in Brick Lane, London and around 50% of the sale will go to the Encephalitis Society, according to Llywelyn Hall.

MacGowan’s funeral is set to take place on Friday in Co Tipperary and Llywelyn Hall said he would watch the live stream.