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  • Writer's pictureFraser Urquhart Media

Hi-De-Hi Star Turned Artist Showcases Art Collection at Leicester Gallery

A colourful star of the stage and screen who has appeared in Hi-de-Hi! and Eastenders will be showcasing her incredible paintings at Leicester’s Oberon Gallery this summer.

The vibrant and colourful artwork of Jean Picton, a former Windmill girl, will be on display at the Oberon Gallery from this month, and members of the public will be given the chance to meet the artist at a glitzy event.

Jean’s colourful past as an actress, dancer and artist has inspired many of her paintings, and guests will be treated to a feast of colour, entertainment and the chance to speak to her about her life.

The highly respected artist started her working life at the age of 15 when she signed up to the circus, before joining a variety act and working with some of the biggest names of the time, including Tommy Cooper and Bruce Forsyth.

She also danced her way into the then famous Windmill Club in Soho, a risqué-for-the-time dance involving well placed fan feathers and elegant moves.

She said: “The shows were beautifully lit and so well-choreographed, and it gave me a good grounding in life, but it was very hard work.”

The Windmill closed by the end of the 1950s and Jean went on to marry her first husband and have children.

It was then she started her acting and cabaret career, cruising the seas, performing in pantomimes, and appearing in various television shows and adverts - including Hi-De-Hi! and Eastenders.

“It was brilliant fun working on set with some more big names, and I was also in the first scenes that Grant and Phil were in on the Square. It was all a very special time for me,” Jean added.

She then went to work in the BBC wardrobe department, and it was then she started painting, before deciding to take on a degree in art.

The 84-year-old, who lives in Bedfordshire, didn’t go onto sell her first painting until she was almost 70 when her new career was born.

Jean’s popularity soon grew, and she now sells dozens of pieces of her artwork throughout the country, and when she has time and is invited to galleries, enjoys meeting her many followers.

“It’s fantastic, I love meeting everyone and it is like being back on stage.

Everyone is so kind and it’s great hearing their feedback on my work,” she added.

Jean is looking forward to returning to Leicester in June and remembers fondly spending two summers in the park in the 1990s when she performed a puppet show.

“They were two glorious summers and Leicester is a great city. I performed under the name Jenny Wrenn Puppets and I’m sure there will be some adults now who will remember me from then,” she added.

Donna Marie Cross, Oberon Gallery Manager, said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming Jean to the gallery. We know she has a huge following across the country and we are making sure the event is going to be as colourful as her personality and work. We shall also be raffling off one of her watercolours for a local charity, so it will be a great chance to come along to meet her.”

Jean will be making a guest appearance at Oberon Art Gallery on Saturday 30th June between 1pm and 4pm.

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