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Guy Portelli Interview




Digger talks to Guy Portelli, the sculptor who secured the support of three of the Dragons on The Dragons' Den TV programme. Guy's Pop Icon sculptures featuring luminaries such as Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Elton John, Sex Pistols, Sade, Grace Jones, The Spice Girls, Bob Marley, Madonna, Tupac, Bono and Amy Winehouse have captured the imaginations of the art world, investors and the public. 



Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.

Guy with the Spice Girls sculpture



About Guy:

GUY PORTELLI RBA, ARBS - Born . South Africa 13th June 1957

Studied Interior Design and 3D Design at Medway College of Art 1974-78

Worked as a sculptor in the special effects dept for the BBC TV before setting up own studio in 1981, producing sculptures for the advertising market. His first opportunity in the world of fine art sculpture was being commissioned to sculpt 13, 9ft classical sculptures for The London Pavilion, in Piccadilly Circus, London.
Having gained a reputation for Classical sculpture, he wanted to promote the more creative aspects of his work, and set about exhibiting his abstract sculptures in galleries, sculpture parks, Manchester Art House, Sausmarez Manor in Guernsey, and a major London show with Andrew Logan. Many large commissions followed.

Elected as a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1998 and voted on to the council in 2000. Actively involved with the promotion of sculpture organising many group exhibitions.

In 2005 he authored ‘Modern British Sculpture’ a comprehensive study of modern sculpture developments in Great Britain.

This is the interview Guy gave to Digger at

Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.




Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.

Guy with the John Lee Hooker sculpture


Digger: Are you full-time in the studio or how does it work? 

Guy: I suppose the time is split three ways really. There's design and research, which is always ongoing. Then there's the development of ideas into production and then there's the marketing. So really it's a way of life, it's not a job. Probably I'm doing 14 or 15 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Digger: A lot of people wouldn't be able to relate to those kind of hours, even though we're supposed to be the hardest working in Europe. It's with you all the time, isn't it? 

Guy: It is, but we just delivered a sculpture to Ringo Starr the other day. I sat in the lorry and we went down there and delivered it. 

Digger: Which one did he take? 

Guy: We've been making some large pieces for him which I've been working with him to develop. These are nine feet tall sculptures. 

Digger: What a great job you've got! 

Guy: Yeah, I sit in a lorry, I go down there and we winch it off the lorry and it weighs about half a ton. We have a cup of tea and we chat to Barbara and Ringo and then we get back in the lorry and we come home. Now to some people that's a day's work - if you're a lorry driver. For me it's a social outing. 

Digger: (Laughs) I hope you've been to health and safety courses for lifting? 

Guy: No we had to hire a gadget on the back and I just stand and watch. There are probably times when we're risking our lives but that wasn't one of them. 

Digger: I understand that Ringo has got the collecting bug in the last few years?

Guy: There's a lot of sculptures around his garden and he does like sculpture and he likes working with artists as well. I think he gets a lot of pleasure with that and he was telling me last time that he and Barbara had been on a painting class in the south of France. They're proactive and they're not just people who sit around doing nothing. 

Digger: I suppose originally, with the early Beatles, they were from an art background and potentially going to be artists. 

Guy: I think Paul McCartney and John Lennon were art college students. Ringo was a sheet metal worker - as he keeps telling me. He asked me a trick question and said "How's that aluminium going to weather?" And I said "Oh no, it will be great." And he said "You can't fool me, I used to be a sheet metal worker. I know what's going to happen to it." He is right, but fortunately he likes things to mature and develop. All the work we do for him, he wants it to tarnish and patinate. 

Digger: It's like when you look out on a cityscape and you see all the green roofs, it's nice to see that colouring. 

Guy: Yeah, that's right. There's one new panel in there and it's not blending in with the rest of it. I'm enjoying my working relationship with the pair of them and it's not in isolation because Barbara is very proactive and has a very strong opinion on things so it's a three-way thing. So one minute I'm here at the computer doing all my emails, the next minute I'm outside sanding down. 

Digger: Do you ever rush in to the computer with your hands all dirty? 

Guy: Sometimes, I'm elbow-deep in plaster and the 'phone rings and I need to answer it. I have lines of shoes at the bottom of the stairs, ones that I can slip on and off 'cos I'm running off to the workshop and then I'm running back and I don't like to run clay and plaster all through the house. My shoes are on and off ten times a day. So I never wear socks because socks are a hindrance. It would be alien to most people. 

Digger: It sounds as though you have to be disciplined in your allocation of time. And a lot of artists would be accused of not being able to be good marketers or good business people, but clearly you've got a knack for it. 

Guy: I enjoy communication. I remember when I was young listening to Mississippi Fred McDowell and he said "I can't write and I can't read, but I can talk to people.  And if you can talk to people you can get on in this world." And this has always resonated with me. I love talking to people whether it be the cleaner or... we did the Wembley concert recently with U2 and it was just a case of emailing them on the Monday and by the Wednesday we were loading on the van and delivering sculpture to Wembley stadium. It was amazing, and we saw both concerts and the security and backstage staff were just brilliant. When you walk in with ten sculptures and you place them, first of all you get people walking up and down and saying "Do you know how much that one costs? It's two years' wages for me!"  But then ten minutes later they're picking up the catalogue and they're reading-up on all the pieces and coming back to you with questions and then arguing amongst each other which their favourites are. It's wonderful to me to see people, who possibly would never walk into an art gallery, who sometimes come out with the most profound responses to your work. In a way it's sort of virgin soil and it's like they're seeing it with children's eyes. 

Digger: Children obviously do see things anew. They asked a group of children how they would keep cats and dogs apart. Now, if you asked adults they'd say "Lock them up in separate enclosures" or "Tie them up" but one of the kids just said "Put a dog's mask on the cat and a cat's mask on the dog." 

Guy: (Laughs) I've got three grandchildren and Monica's just coming up to five and going to big school. She was asked some questions at school and they asked her "What are you good at?" And she said "Catching foxes, finding werewolves, climbing mountains and drawing." And then they said." What aren't you good at?" And she said "I haven't found out yet." 

Digger: (Laughs) They come out with the best lines. 

Guy: They really do and I've learned so, so much from children over the years. My daughter was incredibly astute at seven and still is very astute at business. And most of my business strategy I learned from her because she just saw things in a fresh way and I thought "Hang on a minute, she's miles ahead of me." 

Digger: All our prejudices and preconceptions and baggage that children haven't got. 

Guy: Yeah, I mean the lesson that was almost a turning point in my career was when she came out of school and said "I earned £25 at school today." And this was when £25 was worth having. And I said "How did you do that?" "Well, I make earrings and I sell them." And she opened her pencil-case and she had a whole line of earrings in there and she said "I don't sell these, I take orders. And my mum's got all the beads so it doesn't cost me anything and I tell the girls that they're £3.50 on the market and I do them for £1.50." And I thought "She's got her designs worked out, her distribution, price conditioning." So I came home and looked at my business from that perspective and I realised that the thing I did the least of was the thing that brought in the most money and that was making sculptures and selling them. At the time I was doing a lot of commissions and waiting for clients to come and then when I wasn't busy I was frustrated and I realised that the sculptures gave me total control of my life as I didn't have to wait for other people's demands. So I concentrated on making more gallery pieces and investing more into that. And that eventually became my future. 

Digger: Did you pay your daughter a commission? 

Guy: Er, I'm STILL paying her a commission. 

Digger: What does rock and roll mean to you? 

Guy: Well, obviously I'm passionate about music from Schubert to Miles Davis to opera to Grungie rock and roll. I'm interested in the crossover between art and music where music inspires art and art inspires music. And when you look at what we spoke about earlier - The Beatles and The Who and The Stones coming through art college. 

Digger: And The London School of Economics. 

Guy: Absolutely, once they realised they had a product they got interested in the business side. I had a similar thing with that because when I first started out all I wanted to do was make things in the shed and sell them. And then you start to realise that you're paying tax and employing people and paying VAT and you have to either embrace business as part of the creative process or you can't move forward. You end-up giving all of your money to the taxman because you haven't done your bookkeeping. So I started to see this and then I could adopt it and feel comfortable with it. And I suppose I still do. To me, designing a piece of sculpture is no different to sitting down and pitching an idea to a potential client. 

Digger: Which is why you were comfortable on The Dragon's Den? 

Guy: Yeah, I think I've got an almost prefect background where I've got a very astute mother who is financially very clever and my father, who died when I was 17, was incredibly creative but didn't have a business brain. 

Digger: Did you know him very well? 

Guy: Yes, we did spend a lot of time together. I was the first child, the oldest and I think at that point when my father died on Christmas Eve totally unexpectedly it focused my mind on the value of time. And I realised that I wasn't going to waste a minute from that point on, you know. And it was pivotal because I had started my first year at college and I had been lazy and I had been drifting and then I suddenly realised that everything had a consequence and that time was the one thing you needed to harness as best you can. And I still have that philosophy now. 

Digger: You have a strong work ethic?

Guy: I suppose the funny thing is you're never satisfied, I mean, yesterday I had a day of seeing the bookkeeper, tidying-up my kitchen, doing the paperwork and I felt guilty.

Digger: Are you Catholic?

Guy: I'm not, but my family is a Catholic one. My great uncle was the Cardinal of Malta and so when my grandfather turned against the church, because he saw all the poverty and the money going into the church, so even they were a strict Catholic family he had a violent response to it. 

Digger: So you feel guilty if you're not working?

Guy: If I go on holiday I always take my painting stuff and get up at six in the morning and go and paint for a couple of hours and then by breakfast I feel I've done my day's work. There's times I earn more money when I'm on holiday than I do when I'm in the workshop.

Digger: Well, there you go! That probably tells you something.

Guy: The trouble is that painting compared to sculpture comes so easy it's like the difference between climbing Mount Everest and having a walk up Snowdon. And once you've climbed Everest a few times somehow you never feel quite satisfied with a walk up Snowdon. Yet you're constantly batting your head against this addiction because sculpture is really a mug's game. It costs a lot of money to do it, it takes a lot of time. People buy 20 paintings but they never buy a sculpture. If you do a painting exhibition you can throw 30 paintings in the back of your car but if you do a sculpture exhibition you hire a Luton van and you're breaking your back moving tons of bronze. We are the victims of the art world but you become addicted to that pressure really, it's a strange thing. You get used to doing that and when I do put a painting exhibition on and I sell a few paintings, even though I'm really pleased, it's not quite the same as putting on a sculpture exhibition.

Digger: That's like your Shea Stadium or Albert Hall rather than the Dunstable working men's club.

Guy: Yes, it is this stretching of oneself. I suppose I thrive on the stress to some degree and the idea of going to a meeting on Tuesday, coming back to the team and saying "Okay tomorrow we load up and Thursday we deliver. But none of our plinths will work because of fire restrictions so we've got to make metal plinths in 24 hours." And sometimes I think "Should I bother?"

Digger: It's like a Formula One team, the pressures and the turnaround times.

Guy: It is. Exactly that. And of course I expect of my team the same as I expect of myself and that can be unrealistic. Because they have lives outside and if I decide I'm going to work all night they say "Hang on a minute, I've arranged to go to the cinema." Whereas I can cancel the cinema and go and do it because it's my career and my future. I know which of the team will give me 100% and which will go home. Providing you know that, you can work round it.

Digger: At the moment we have got the strange financial situation which, allegedly, we're just coming out of. Would you say that art is recession-proof to a certain extent?

Guy: No. Most certainly not. We are the first ones to suffer. In art, over two or three years ago, before the recession hit, the money spenders knew there was a crisis coming and they were pulling in the horns a long time before it hit the press. And the top end of the market was still going right up until the last minute.

Digger: That was the problem, because there was great hype surrounding the Hirst exhibition and the huge amounts of money involved there at the same time as the crashes of the banks. 

Guy: Yes, that was sort of a contradiction in terms and he just got in at the eleventh hour with that exhibition. And, of course, if you suddenly go from having 5 billion to having 3 billion, you're poorer but not poor in real terms. And the other thing is that the people that invested in that art were trying to maintain the levels of their investments. They were bolstering the market and buying to keep the price high. So it's slightly unrealistic.

Digger: When I was talking about recession-proof, what I really had in mind was that, rather investing in gold, or stocks or pensions, does it not make more sense to invest it in memorabilia or artwork? Because long-term it is going to perform?

Guy: Only if you buy the right thing at the right time at the right price. If you buy at the peak of the market you're buying at the going rate. And therefore if we get a slump it can go down 20 or 30% overnight. But the time to buy art is when the artist is at the beginning of the development of that artist. The example I can give is the little John Lennon sculpture that we did eight or nine years ago and I was selling it at £1,800 or £1,900 and we just sold the last one at £6,800. And probably the next one's £8,000 or £9,000. So the people who bought six years ago have seen a 400% rise in the price but the people who buy in two years time when it's at about £12,000 or £13,000 are not necessarily going to see a huge increase in their investment straight away. There are two times two buy an artist's work - at the start of the cycle and the other time is when they go into the doldrums, about twenty years after they peak they go out of fashion. I was always monitoring these things - five years ago I was saying to everyone buy Paul Mount's work - he's a great sculptor and he's in his 80s and at the time you could have bought a really nice Paul Mount for about £3,000-£4,000 and unfortunately he died last year. He was a really nice man and now it's worth £15,000. There are two bites of the cherry and you just have to buy at the right time. 

Digger: So how many editions are there going to be of these works?

Guy: Well, for The Dragon's Den stuff we've done 18 pieces and some of the pieces are editions of ten and some are editions of three and the middle-sized pieces are five or seven and the small pieces are ten. And in total they add up to 100 pieces. What I've done is I've sold 25% of 100 pieces so at some point when all those pieces are sold, in theory, I can walk away from the table and say that's it I've honoured my part of the deal. We do have the doors open and if I want to make more pieces and the situation is working then we can carry on.


Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.

Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.


David Bowie

Jimi Hendrix


Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.

Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.


  John Lennon

Grace Jones


Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.

The Who


Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.

Amy Winehouse



Digger: I was talking to someone the other day who's been on Dragon's Den and she said that they didn't actually buy into what she was doing but she wasn't expecting that. She was there for a good fifteen minute promotion which it was. What were your expectations when you went into the Den?

Guy: I think my theory is that if you go in there and you fail, as an artist , you have a big setback. I wasn't doing it from a point of weakness because I was already a reasonably established sculptor and I was exhibiting in some of the top galleries in London. 

Digger: Were the Dragons aware of you?

Guy: Deborah Meaden was. She recognised the galleries that I quoted and she asked me who represented me. She knew that I was at the good galleries. And this is the measure of where you are. If I meet an artist on the train who I don't know and I say "Who represents you and which gallery are you with?" I can gauge where they are on the league table just by that. Well the Albermarle are good and they're top of the first division, but if you tell me White Cube then I know you're really up there. I was already on that scale and had I walked away completely shot down in flames my galleries would have walked away from me as well because they would have said to me "Look Guy, you took a risk, put your reputation on the line, got shot down and we can't back you anymore."

Digger: Tough, in that it's only five people's opinions - granted these are astute business people who have been successful at what they do, but theirs is a financial decision at the end of the day, isn't it?

Guy: You have to remember that the whole art world at the highest level is probably orchestrated by 50 people in the whole world. These are the big hitters. The top of the pile is Gagosian and he's the God in the art world and if he signs you up your work will go from being worth £10 to £10,000 overnight. He commands that much influence. And it come down from there but there are very few people that control the market so you need to get one of those people on your side. Or you've got to box clever really.

Digger: What's the top seller of the icon Artworks?

Guy: Top seller in terms of price or most popular?

Digger: Most popular.

Guy: The little John Lennon head, we have sold 10 of those in black and now we're doing silver.

Digger: Is the work selling the world over?

Guy: It seems to connect with people on all levels the John Lennon. A) as a piece of sculpture, because it's something you can have as a desk piece or in a domestic situation. B) it's got a certain amount of humour that people like and C) it's also an Icon who is popular with my potential clientele. Sort of 40-60 year-old men. They're my sort of catchment. (Digger laughs)  I mean I very rarely sell these pieces to women, although it does happen on the odd occasion. So they're the ones with the money, the high earners and they want to buy into this and they're revisiting their youth as well and so if you can connect with all of those elements then you've got a sale. I have been at art events enough to see the trends and it's rather amusing. Your top seller is going to be the naked female form.

Digger: Yes, I've got a couple of naked ladies in my house in deco figurines.

Guy: You will never sell a naked male. You'd sell 50 females to one male. And then you move onto horses which is probably the next big thing. Horses, eagles, dogs and cats. The funny thing with dogs and cats is that people who buy dogs will only buy the dog they own. If they own a Labrador they won't buy a spaniel. But if it's a cat you can sell a cat to anybody who loves cats whether it's a Siamese or whatever. So you're more likely to sell a cat because the chances of you making a Labrador and a Labrador client coming along is minimal.

Digger: This is crucial stuff isn't it?

Guy: Yes, if you're running a business you've got to learn about your marketing. 

Digger: Did you apply the same sort of rationale when you decided who the subjects of these Icon Artworks were going to be? There's a good cross-section there.

Guy: I tend to look at the same thing from three angles. I put the idea in the middle of the floor and I walk around it and I look at it from one angle which is does it inspire me? The I walk round the other side and I say can I afford to make it? And then I walk round the other side and say will it sell and who will but it? If all the answers are yes then I make it. And if one of the answers is no then I think about it.

Digger: What didn't make it ?

Guy: I wanted to do The Clash - they were high up on my list, but the Sex Pistols became such a strong piece visually and there was so much to tap into with the Sex Pistols, so theatrical, that it was almost doubling up and there would have been  too much strength at that point. When I came out of The Dragons' Den and I had to think where do I start with this project and where do I finish it? I started with Frank Sinatra because people didn't expect me to start with Frank Sinatra and it actually grabbed their attention. Because they think "Why?" And the answer is he was the first truly global superstar in the age of television and radio after the war years. And also he's highly respected by people like Bono and Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson - he is respected by everybody. So he's a powerhouse. And then I found a really good angle on the sculpture with the Mafia influence and the Las Vegas influence. That was a good start and then you think where am I going to finish and really Amy Winehouse was the choice for the finishing because she went full circle. Her work is almost Frank Sinatra - it's got some of the same lyrical flow as some of the Frank Sinatra songs, it embraces soul, blues and jazz. So in a way it covered the whole six decades, plus visually she is very exciting to look at so that top and tailed nicely. The problem that I had was that the 60s and 70s were so strong  and the 80s were weak comparatively so that you could have done a whole exhibition virtually between '65 and '75 and it was a case of who do you leave out? I left out The Rolling Stones, I left out The Clash. We put Michael Jackson in in the end because we had an angle on him when he died. We left out Elvis Presley. I left out people who were almost caricatures of themselves. 

Digger: Jim Morrison?

Guy: Jim Morrison was on my list and I researched and researched him and I think if I did a second chapter then he would definitely make the second cut. But it was that period which was so rich and I wanted to spread it and I wanted three pieces from each decade. That was roughly my aim. The 90s I struggled with - we ended-up with Tupac and The Spice Girls. Because the people who made it big in the sixties were still going and filling the stadiums.

Digger:  A lot of the acts that made it big in the 70s did their groundwork in the 60s.

Guy: Yeah, that's when they learned the trade and reinvented the whole look. What was interesting for me was watching this movement which started off in America - Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker and then we came over to London in the mid to late sixties and London took the crown. And then I wanted to go back and get more of a balance between the UK and America later in time with Madonna and so on. And also some of the world influence with Bob Marley and Grace Jones - world music tapping-in there as well. Then the Spice Girls changed the way music was marketed and I wanted to reflect that - they were a packaged band and the marketing people realised that the big music buyers were 14 year-old girls and they started to pitch everything towards them and that is still to some degree the case today. And I wanted to illustrate that change of dynamic and by putting them in a sweetie bag and making them out of sweets was a tongue-in-cheek snipe at them as well. So it's piece of artwork about them and is also about the packaging and marketing.

Digger: What about - two things really, copyright on an image of a person. Is there such a thing? And do you get feedback from these stars who are still alive to tell you what they think?

Guy: When the BBC got involved they were pretty cautious about what we could and couldn't do so I had to go to some of the top legal minds in the world on the subject.

Digger: That sounds expensive.

Guy: In fact it wasn't because they all pretty much gave me their advice free. I don't know why, I suppose it was because it was so out of the ordinary.

Digger: And also by the time they'd said it, they'd said it.

Guy: Yeah, when you're on the 'phone to them they are fascinated by the project and they give you their answer. I did send some images and they came back to me and said that will work and be fine. The only reservation is probably California where the laws are different. But I had a very funny story regarding the first solicitor I spoke to who said "In England, you can legally make a sculpture of anybody and there's no copyright on a person's face. In America, you can make one of anybody but you can't make more than one and sell it. But there is one proviso - Elvis Presley. He has certain limitations as to what you can do." So I went to see my hairdresser before I went on The Dragons' Den and I was telling him about this and before I mentioned his name he said "Elvis Presley" and I said "How did you know that?" and he said "My sister owns the rights to Elvis Presley." 

Digger: Lucky.

Guy: She owns the rights to Elvis and to Che Guevara in the UK but I still didn't do it even though I had the contacts. In a way because when people said "Do Elvis Presley" and I thought of making him out of hamburgers. But all I'd do is upset Elvis Presley fans and I wouldn't sell any sculptures. It would be a statement and not please anybody. What I want to do is make a statement but not offend. 

Digger: You want to provoke into thinking.

Guy: I don't want to upset Presley fans. It doesn't do them or me any good.

Digger: So people like Bono and The Spice Girls are happy, are they?

Guy: Nobody has complained. Which is the usual yardstick. I'm not quite sure how I'd take it if someone like Grace Jones came along and said "I don't want you to do that." I'd have to assess whether or not their opinion would override my opinion. I would certainly think about it and withdraw it if I thought it hadn't worked.

Digger: You're right about art and music being inextricably linked. There's a very close relationship.

Guy: If you look at art as a bigger thing. We tend to look at art as a sculpture or a painting on the wall. But art is fashion, jewellery, photography. So when you start to look at it as a bigger chapter. Then Grace Jones would not be the same without Jean Paul Gaultier and the photographers or the set-designers, architects or make-up artists. And whenever I give my lectures on art the first thing I try to do with people is say "Try to think of 30 ways that art influences the world. Car design... everything."

Digger: Icons like the tube map or the red telephone box.

Guy: You're right. As influential as the Mona Lisa. If not more so, because it's more relevant. It's a great shame that we don't raise the profile of all these people doing such great work, whether it be designing a chair ... there's no less artistic merit in that than a piece of sculpture.

Digger: What have you got planned for the future, generally and also with regard to the Icon Artworks?

Guy: Well, now we've got the collection finished as a package we're taking it on tour, and we've got about five or six things lined-up between now and January 2010. We're in Birmingham next month, a couple of small shows in London, we're doing Coldplay at Wembley in two or three weeks time. Then we're having a big London show in January. But we're close to doing a deal with three exhibitions in China which will happen next year. It's a new market and they're interested in western culture.

Digger: How genned-up are they?

Guy: That I really don't know. I was approached by an agent who said "This will go down well in Asia." And we've built-up a good working relationship, and to some degree I have to trust his instincts. And I'll start asking around which stars are big in China.

Digger: Might be some surprises there?

Guy: Yes, I think so. Some stars may have gone under the radar. Maybe they just get the Rolling Stones and The Beatles but not The Clash and The Sex Pistols. There might be just the top of the pyramid so that some pieces won't work for them because they are not getting them and they don't know the background. That's what we need to look at.

Digger: This all sounds very exciting.

Guy: It has been. We've spent the whole year doing this collection after 34 years of trying to move it forward, because I started it at 17 at college and it's taken me until now just to find how to open that door to get it onto the larger stage. 

Digger: Tenacity from you and inspiration from your daughter.

Guy: Yes, I think I've learned a lot over the years and sometimes you're not ready for an opportunity but now seemed about the right time.  Ten years ago I probably wouldn't have had the knowledge and in ten years' time I probably won't have the energy. You learn out of necessity and I think that's human nature and I certainly could not have achieved what we have now ten years ago - bronze casting and plating stuff. The knowledge that I have now and the back-up team I have now - we have put a huge project together very quickly and this wouldn't have been possible even ten years ago. We're still using the same techniques that the Chinese were using 4,000 years ago but it's on the bronze casting and electro-plating that have taken me a long time to catch-up and get up-to-speed with it. Because I left industry at 23 I've had to learn everything for myself. I spent some time at the BBC doing special effects and had I stayed there I wouldn't have developed that instinct for survival.

Digger: What programmes were you working on?

Guy: Blake's Seven, Dr Who.

Digger: Wonderful, what a pedigree!

Guy: Yes, the good thing there was that I was working alongside 30 other specialists and I could dip in and out and see what they were doing and just absorb all that knowledge and it was a great launch pad but in a way it was a very comfortable life. And if I'd stayed there longer I would never have left. You've just got to sometimes go the hard route in order for you to reach your destination. It has been a hard route but an enjoyable and fruitful one.

Digger: Guy, it's been great talking to you. And the very best of luck with the exhibitions, the tour and the continuing projects.

Guy: Thanks David.



Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.

Guy with the Dragons

Pop Icon images © copyright Guy Portelli.


Dragon Peter Jones with the Elton John sculpture



Guy Portelli interview. 26th August 2009. 


More information at:

Guy's Dragon's Den appearance on Youtube

Portelli Pop Icon website


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