Daughter of Highgate royal photographer paints her father’s famous portraits

Renowned royal photographer John Swannell has taken shots of some of the world’s best-known figures, including Andy Warhol, Sir Paul McCartney and the Queen.

And now his artist daughter hopes to make a name for herself by painting eye-catching versions of her father’s iconic portraits.

Bold, unblinking eyes in familiar faces will stare across a Highgate gallery from Jane Swannell’s striking artworks next week in what will be the painter’s first major exhibition.

Miss Swannell, 32, said her father’s glittering photography career inspired her to pick up a brush from a young age.

The mother-of-three said: “Whenever he makes a book, I get sent a copy and I’ll be flicking through and the faces just jump out at me.


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“My dad takes a lot of models and beautiful ladies who I don’t find so interesting.

“I’m inspired by the faces, like Andy Warhol’s, that are more lined, by older faces, or not conventionally beautiful.”

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Among her collection of intensely vivid portraits are takes on her father’s shots of pop artist Warhol, Belsize Park actress Helena Bonham Carter, Beatles icon Sir Paul and legendary photographer David Bailey, whom Mr Swannell worked under in the 1960s before setting up his own studio.

Lesser-known faces will also feature in the exhibition – namely those of the painter’s three young children.

Born in Highgate, Miss Swannell moved away from the area aged three when her parents divorced.

However, she is very familiar with the village from her regular visits to see her father at his Highgate home.

It is thanks to him that she will launch her first major art show at Highgate Contemporary Art gallery in the Highgate High Street on Tuesday, September 9.

The full-time mum said: “He rang me to say he might be able to get me this exhibition, and I was just so excited.

“The gallery said it was a gamble because they don’t take many portraits so I really appreciate it. It’s a dream come true.”

Miss Swannell has painted since she was a child and studied the discipline at Falmouth College of Art, in Cornwall, and Hastings College of Art, in East Sussex.

She has struggled to win exhibitions in her hometown of Tunbridge Wells, but hopes Highgate’s artistic crowd will take more of a liking to her “dark” paintings.

Her show will run at Highgate Contemporary Art until Sunday, September 14.

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