John Lee Bird marks ten years of his before encore project with an exhibition of 36 new portraits documenting London’s mercurial creative counter-culture at 20th Century Theatre

before encore is an ongoing portraiture project in which seminal London artist John Lee Bird documents the influential performers, muses, designers, musicians, poets and artists who exist within the creative spaces between marginal and mainstream popular culture.

2016 sees before encore enter its tenth year and 14th-15th June sees a two day exhibition at London’s 20th Century Theatre of the latest 36 portraits representing a diverse subculture of London’s performance/club/queer/music DIY/art scenes.


“It never occurred to me that before encore would still be ongoing after ten years, or that it would take on such a documentary importance in terms of recording what the outsider creative scene looked and felt like at different times. The whole project has gradually defined its own purpose, identity & relevance during the process of creating it, and that feels absolutely, perfectly appropriate given the subject matter,” says Bird.

The exhibition will be a riotous celebration of not only John Lee Bird’s work but also his subjects, with countless musicians & performers from the latest portraits taking the stage, as well as a number of surprise guests from previous series’ of before encore.

“I’ve painted many people who are now household names as part of before encore, but it has never been a predictive project. It’s never been a snapshot of the biggest deals at the time, but a representation of how the period felt – the energy, the direction, the possibilities – how that felt to me at the time, through the faces that were there. Yes, there are lots of performers, artists & musicians but there are also bar staff & club kids, because they were as much a part of how everything felt at that point in time.”

The exhibition, which is free and unticketed, runs from 6pm-11pm on Tuesday 14th June & from 12pm-11pm on Wednesday 15th with live performances from 7pm on both nights. Musicians & artists confirmed to perform include Madam, Mikkokoo, The Black Site, Catmilk, Chicken, Sam Amant, Bete Noire, Campbell L Sangster, Thom Shaw, Dale Cornish, Marisa Carnesky, The Budda Cakes, Mr Teds, Timberlina & Oozing Gloop as well as a number of surprise guest appearances.

About John Lee Bird
John Lee Bird’s work is defined by his distinctive use of line; influenced by pop art and 1950’s instruction and medical manuals yet entirely more detailed and personable. He uses diagrammatic line to make intensely human studies; whether the object be a portrait or a more abstract vision of matters of the human condition. He is best known for his ongoing iconic before encore portraiture project, which celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2016.

About 20th Century Theatre
The 20th Century Theatre is a beautiful Grade 2 listed English Heritage Building in the heart of vibrant Notting Hill with a rich connection to some of the most prominent musicians, authors, actors, playwrights and culture of the 20th Century.

For more Before Encore images, and coverage see ORGAN PREVIEW: John Lee Bird, one more encore, there’s always one more painting…

For more information, images, or to talk to the artists or anyone involved in the show please contact Ellie at the Blue Art List by return of e.mail

As always your coverage, support, news stories and coverage via your blogs and websites are more than welcome and of course very much appreciated

Thanks, Ellie Scott, Blue Art List



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s