Art Fair East to showcase the legacy paintings of Norwich artist John Link

I have been a fan of John Link’s work from the moment I first saw it.
The portraits are bright and colourful, which I love.
You know immediately which character is being portrayed, and you know there is a story there somewhere.
I would fill my house with these paintings if I had the room!”
Judi Dench

John Link
John Link pictured with one of his works, King Lear and the actress Judi Dench. Credit: Daniel Link

One of the largest regional art fairs in the UK is set to showcase the legacy paintings of Norwich artist John Link.

John, who had an impressive career as a theatre Director, TV producer, tutor and dialogue coach, died in August after a long battle with cancer.

Now, his oil paintings are set to go on show at Art Fair East this December.

After taking up painting full time at the age of 60, John’s inspiration was the human predicament, with direct influences from his career in theatre and from Shakespearian characters which would often grace his canvases.

Throughout his treatment for cancer, John continued to paint and created eight paintings this year – his legacy paintings. After his death his wife, Bridget Link, vowed to show his work at this year’s Art Fair East.

Bridget, an actor and coach, said: “I feel I owe it to him to put some life into what he created.
He painted eight paintings, his legacy paintings, while going through chemotherapy. They are so unbelievably energetic and lively, there is so much colour. They are absolutely beautiful and I’m very proud of them.

“At Art Fair East visitors can buy the last works to come from his studio. I just feel it’s his legacy, it’s what he left behind. He said a number of times you’ve got to keep selling the paintings, it’s just too tragic for them to be sitting in the studio.”

John had a varied and interesting career. After leaving school at the age of 14, he worked in a factory in Denmark before training as an actor – where he met his wife Bridget on his first day at Rose Bruford College.

Bridget said: “His very chequered life was inspired very much by his mother who just said you’ve got to break the rules John, if you stay safe, you’ll never do anything special.”

Feste by John Link. Credit: John Link
Feste by John Link. Credit: John Link

Whilst training as an actor John decided to become a director and for 30 years was a successful theatre director and TV producer. Latterly he taught at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art where he was a senior tutor.

When John was 60, he went to see a doctor who told him he had high blood pressure and needed to find a hobby. He called into an art shop on his way home and bought a canvas and oil paints.

ohn Link pictured in his studio painting King Lear. Credit: Daniel Link
John Link pictured in his studio painting King Lear. Credit: Daniel Link

Bridget recalls: “John said, I’m going to use the garden shed and see if it works and he painted King Lear. After about a month he said, I want to see what you think. And we went into his shed and were gobsmacked, it was stunning and that was the start.

“Throughout his career there’s been so much goodwill and interest in his work. When he first started painting people would stand in front of the works and just cry or not say anything at all, they were so moved.

“He was always very modest, he had no formal training and the success was always a big surprise to him. Shakespeare became the basis for all his paintings, and it tied in with what he loved.”

Love Labour’s Lost by John Link. Credit: John Link
Love Labour’s Lost by John Link. Credit: John Link

In his lifetime John exhibited to acclaim in London, Brighton, Norwich and beyond.

John would often start a painting without knowing what the subject was going to be. In John’s words: “The act of painting or indeed, creating, should be like a piece of jazz improv – structured – starting from an idea, this allows freedom to roam and find its own outcome.”

Alongside John’s work, this year’s Art Fair East will showcase around 1,000 works from artists, galleries and art dealers from across the world.

A host of new and returning exhibitors will descend on St Andrews Hall in the city between 3rd and 5th December.

Art Fair East was founded in 2015 by leading Norfolk-based artists Will Teather and Brian Korteling. The pair are passionate about increasing interest in the visual arts and supporting artists.

Will Teather, who has had his work showcased at New York’s Market & Design Fair, said: “John Link’s paintings have a unique sensitivity and poignancy about them. His colour palette is also very individualistic. I liked John immediately upon meeting him and we are honoured to host John’s legacy work at Art Fair East 2021.”

Bridget, who was married to John for 56 years, said: “We just feel we owe it to him to continue showing his work. He was very keen I continued with my life. He said keep on keeping on. He’s made me very strong. It’s like he left us some energy to keep going on. You never give up.

“Keep your hope for today even if it seems to be going.”

John Link pictured with one of his works, King Lear. Credit: Daniel Link
John Link pictured with one of his works, King Lear. Credit: Daniel Link

For more information about Art Fair East visit

This year’s fair will run from Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th December 2021, at St Andrews Hall in Norwich.

Art Fair East is sponsored by Musker McIntyre and Chadwicks.

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