Jacksonville residents will have an opportunity to see the work of artist and philanthropist Mackenzie Thorpe at the Avondale Artworks Gallery through October.
Thorpe was recently awarded a commission to create a painting to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the highest honor for an artist in the United Kingdom.
Thorpe is also a noted philanthropist, and said he works with kids because of the struggles he had pursuing what he loved as a child.
He said he was branded useless in school by his classmates for being dyslexic. At 15-years-old, Thorpe said he questioned his life’s purpose, and could find none.
“You don’t have to have a Rolls-Royce or millions of dollars to have a dream,” Thorpe said. “It’s having somebody recognize that you can.”
In 1977, he applied to the Cleveland College of Art and Design, where he graduated in 1982. Seven years later, he started his own gallery in North Yorkshire, which still exists today.
One morning after returning from a tour in Japan, Thorpe said he received a phone call about commissioning a painting for the Queen’s Royal Collection.
He wasn’t allowed to talk about it with his family, but said he was elated at the possibility that his work could be viewed alongside some of the most famous painters in history.
“For the next thousand years,” Thorpe said, “my work will be in the Royal Collection next to Ginsburg, Constable, Picasso.”
When he finally met Queen Elizabeth II, Thorpe said she asked what his painting represented.
“It’s about celebration against the backdrop of the working class of the North East of England who have been suppressed for years.
After her response, "Woah," Thorpe gave it a second thought.
“Forget that – we’re all out celebrating,” he said.
The Jacksonville Avondale Artworks Gallery exhibit will continue throughout the month, ending Oct. 31st.