Drawing: Peter Snell

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Sir Peter Snell is one of New Zealand’s greatest sports achievers – some say the greatest. He was voted New Zealand’s ‘Sports Champion of the 20th Century’ and one of 24 inaugural members of the International Association of Athletics Federation Hall of Fame in 2012.

Sir Peter won three Olympic gold medals; Rome in 1960 800m, Tokyo in 1964 800m and 1500m and two Commonwealth Games titles for the 880 yards and 1 mile in Perth in 1962. He was knighted in 2009.

I sent my caricature to him at the University of Texas in September 1990, and he signed and returned it with an accompanying letter.

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Drawing: Alan Cumming in Macbeth

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Alan Cumming has just finished performing a radical re-imagining of Macbeth, single handedly! to sell out audiences on Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre (of Theater in the American vernacular).

He won the Olivier Award, playing the maniac in Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist in 1996 and the Tony Award for his role as the MC in the Broadway production of Cabaret seven years later. Alan has also been nominated for two Emmys and two Screen Actor’s Guild Awards.

In this National Theatre of Scotland production the 11th Century ‘Thane of Cawdor’s’ murderous ambition and corrosive guilt is cleverly transferred to a chilly chamber of a mental institution where a CCTV camera captures the patient’s every move as he is habited in turn by each of the characters from ‘the Scottish play’. In two hours with no intermission he performs “one power grab, and 16 major roles,” as one reviewer put it. “Cumming’s delivery swiftly shifts characters with stunning clarity.”

Alan signed my sketch yesterday at a preview screening of his latest film Any Day Now at Piccadilly Vue Apollo Cinema in London

Drawing: The America’s Cup, Team New Zealand

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The 34th America’s Cup is currently taking place in San Francisco.

It’s known as much for controversy, complex rules, courtroom wrangles and rich men posturing as it is for cutting edge design, world class sailors and absorbing racing.

Emirates Team New Zealand and Italy’s Luna Rossa are sailing in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final to determine who will challenge the defender Oracle for ‘The Auld Mug’ next month.

Using revolutionary high speed 72ft multi-hulls known as AC72s with rigid ‘wing’ sails and hydrofoils to lift the hulls clear of the water, has created drama, controversy and tragedy dubbed ‘The Fiasco in Frisco!’

The America’s Cup’s is the oldest active trophy in International Sport. Originally awarded in 1851 by the Royal Yacht Club for a race around the Isle of Wight. It has was won by the scooner ‘America’, renamed ‘The America’s Cup’ and donated to the New York Yacht Club under the terms of the Deed of Gift, which made it available for perpetual international competition. And there it stayed, from 1857 until 1983 when ‘Australia II’ skippered by John Bertrand came from behind to beat Dennis Connor’s ‘Liberty’ 4-3 in the best-of-seven format, ending the biggest winning streak in the history of sport.

In spite of being the first defending helmsman to be defeated in the 132 year history of the cup, Connor won it back in 1987, beating Australia’s ‘Kookaburra III’ off Freemantle for the San Diego Yacht Club. Hosted by the Royal Perth Yacht Club, the series was also notable for New Zealand’s entry, a fibreglass hulled boat, helmed by Chris Dickson, nicknamed ‘plastic fantastic’.

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‘Mr Americas Cup’ Conner became ‘Dirty Dennis’ when he accused Team New Zealand of cheating. Core samples were taken and the New Zealand was cleared and declared within the rules.

Conner however went on to win the Challenger series over New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Final before winning the Cup itself against the defending Aussies.

New Zealand’s syndicate head, Sir Michael Fay lodged a successful challenge to the New York Supreme Court by the Mercury Bay Yacht Club. In 1988, New Zealand’s gigantic 90ft boat sailed off against Conner’s catamaran, which the court ruled unfair and awarded the Cup to New Zealand. This was overturned on appeal.

Team New Zealand finally triumphed on the water in 1995 with ‘Black Magic’ (NZL32) in San Diego, skippered by Russell Coutts, they defeated Conners ‘Stars and Stripes’ 5-0.

The late Sir Peter Blake was the syndicate boss for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Team New Zealand successfully defended the Cup in 1999-2000 against Prada, the first time it was contested without an American challenger or defender.

My ‘Black Magic’ sketch was signed in San Diego, arranged by New Zealand’s legendary sailing commentator Pete Montgomery ‘The Voice’ of the America’s Cup. ‘PJ’ has covered every America’s Cup regatta since 1986. The signatures include Sir Peter Blake, Russell Coutts and tactician Brad Butterworth along with the crew of NZL32.

Both Dennis Conner and John Bertrand visited New Zealand in 2004 to compete in the Etchells National Championships, sailed off Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. Conner was the defending champion and Bertrand had won it the previous year. They renewed old rivalries and signed my respective sketches at the same time.

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Drawing: Miss Polly Rae

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Miss Polly Rae is one of the leading singers and dancers in the Neo-burlesque scene.

Fusing fashion, music and popular culture, her ‘Hurly Burly Show’ was the first major burlesque inspired musical spectacular to be staged in a West End Theatre, playing the Garrick in 2011.

Full of wit and joie de vivre, it transferred, it transferred for a 12 week limited season at the Duchess Theatre in 2012, where Miss Polly signed my sketch.

Drawing: Relatively Speaking at Wyndham’s Theatre

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The first London revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s classic comedy Relatively Speaking concludes its three month West End run at Wyndham’s Theatre this month.

The Theatre Royal Bath production, directed by Lindsay Posner stars Felicity Kendal, Jonathan Coy, Kara Tointon and Max Bennett.

Described by the Guardian as “two hours of continuous laughter,” this beautifully crafted and charmingly English play was Ayckbourn’s first great West End success, opening at the Duke of York’s in 1967. Its theme of middle class marital misery and the mistaken identity gag became his speciality.

Greg (Bennett) and Ginny (Tointon) only met a month ago, but he has made up his mind that she’s the one for him. She tells him that she’s off for a weekend at her parents. He finds a scribbled address and decides to surprise her and ask her father for his daughter’s hand.

Sheila (Kendal) and Philip (Coy) are enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning breakfast interrupted by the two visitors. The only thing – they’re not Ginny’s parents…

All four cast members are a delight, on and off the stage. They happily signed my sketch after Friday night’s performance.

Drawing: Katherine Jenkins

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Welsh songbird Katherine Jenkins did a bit of tube busking in November 2011. The mezzo-soprano is more used to performing in front of thousands in some of the World’s major stages.

A 45 minute stint at Leicester Square station for London commuters yielded £16 for a homeless charity, going undercover with a ‘make-under”, hiding her trademark blonde locks behind a scruffy brunette wig and casual clothes. But her distinctive vocal fooled few.

Katherine’s classical crossover style, including operatic arias, popular songs, musical theatre and hymns has won her two Classical Brit Album of the Year Awards.

After performing with the legendary Dame Vera Lynn at the 60th VE Day Anniversary concert in 2005, the WWII ‘forces sweetheart’ said Katherine should consider performing for the British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. She did just that. Her helicopter was targeted by missiles, but she eventually landed safely when anti-missile flares were deployed.

She came second in the US Dancing with the Stars and this year ran the London marathon in 5 hours 26 minutes, raising £25,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of her father. Katherine also performed at a fundraiser in October 2011 to help relief efforts after the devastation caused by the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.

She signed my ‘busking’ sketch at her London office in Chiswick Lane, a couple of days after her underground debut. An earlier portrait was signed in the mid 2000s through the mail.

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Drawing: All Round Good Guys Part 2 – Khan and Botham

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Imran Khan is Pakistan’s most successful captain, in a career that spanned almost twenty years from 1971-1992. In 88 Test matches he scored 3807 runs, including six centuries, taking 382 wickets.

He is one of only eight players to achieve the all-rounders Test triple – 3000 runs and 300 wickets . He did so in 75 matches, second fastest behind Sir Ian Botham (72).

He retired twice. First after the 1987 World Cup, but due to popular demand he was requested by President Zia ul Haq to return to Captain the team again. At 39, he lead Pakistan to World Cup glory, winning the 1992 Championship, beating England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the final, then retired again.

An alma mater of Oxford University, Khan entered politics and was a member of the National Assembly (2002-2007). He is also known for his philanthropy, building cancer hospitals and research centres.

In 1996 he faced libel action taken against him by Sir Ian Botham, surrounding ball tampering and associated derogatory comments.

Sir Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham was a genuine all-rounder – a big hitting batsman with a classical straight bat style and a medium paced swing bowler. A controversial figure both on and off the field, Beefy was involved in a number of well-publicised incidents, including a suspension from the National team for smoking cannabis. He also captained England in 12 Tests. His right arm medium bowling resulted in 383 wickets in 102 Tests, accumulating 5,200 runs. He has taken five wickets and scored a century in an innings of a same Test match on five occasions. He still holds the record for the highest number of wickets taken by an English bowler.

A prodigious fund-raiser, he is renowned for his Charity Walks and has raised over £12 million for Leukaemia Research. Sir Ian became Sir Ian in 2007, knighted for services to cricket and cancer charity work.

Imran signed my caricature during Pakistan’s 1988/89 tour of New Zealand. Sir Beefy graphed his in Wellington, when England played New Zealand in the 1992 World Cup at the Basin Reserve.

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Drawing: All Round Good Guys Part 1 – Hadlee and Dev

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Sir Richard Hadlee, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Sir Ian Botham were the top four cricket all-rounders of the 1980’s and early 90’s. They are all inductees into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. New Zealand’s ‘Paddles’ Hadlee is considered one of the great fast bowlers of all time. The 2002 edition of Wisden listed him as the second great test bowler in the history of the game. ESPN named him as the 12th Best Cricketer of all time in its Legends of Cricket selection.

Playing for the Black Caps from 1988-1994, his right-arm bowling was initially extremely fast, with devastating control. Over time his pace reduced but he gained more accuracy and movement off the wicket. The master of conventional ‘swing’ batting, he was the original ‘Sultan of Swing’, with his most potent delivery the unplayable outswinger. He was the first player to take 400 Test Wickets and after 86 Matches, ended his career with 431 at an average of 22.29. He scored 3,124 test runs, with two centuries including 151 not out. He was Knighted in 1990.

Kapil Dev replaced Sir Richard’s wicket-taking World Record in early 1994 and was  Wisden’s Indian Cricketer of the Century (2002). Known for his grace and pace (involving a majestic leap at the crease) his right-arm outswinger and a potent inswinging yorker enabled him to take 434 test wickets before he retired in 1994. A naturally aggressive batsman, he scored more than 5000 runs in test matches and in ODIs and captained India to the 1983 World Cup Championship, beating the mighty West Indies who were looking for a hat trick of titles at Lords.

‘Paddles’ signed 15 limited edition prints as part of a set of New Zealand’s Best Cricket XI at his home in Christchurch in the mid 1990’s. They were sold for various charities. The caricature was signed at a sporting function in Invercargill in 1989. Kapil Dev signed his caricature on his final visit to New Zealand in 1994 during India’s one-off Test in Hamilton.

Tomorrow: Part 2, Khan and Botham

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Drawing: Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean

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Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean stunned the world with their steamy skating synchronicity at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in Yugoslavia to win the Gold medal for Great Britain in the ice dancing competition.

Performing the memorable ‘Boléro’ the pair became the highest scoring figure skaters of all time, receiving twelve perfect 6.0s and six 5.9s. They earned accross-the-board perfect scores for artistic impression in the free dance section – a feat that has never been matched.

In addition to their Olympic title, they have won 4 European and World Championships and 7 British.

They turned professional after the 1984 Olympics, winning the World Professional title on five occasions, but decided to return to the amateur arena for the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway due to a change in the eligibility rules.

Their routine had an assisted lift, which pushed the envelope of the rules, and despite winning the British and European Championships that year, the Olympic judges placed them third with a bronze medal.

Their 1984 gold medal winning performance has been rated as the eighth most memorable of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments. They retired from competitive skating in 1998.

Jayne and Chris signed my sketch at the O2 Arena in Greenwich in April 2010, as part of their Dancing on Ice Tour.

Drawing: Valerie Adams

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Kiwi Valerie Adams made history on the 12 August 2013 to become the most successful shot putter in history with her fourth consecutive World Title in Moscow.

This installs Valerie as the most dominant athlete in the sport – male or female. Val is now unbeaten in a streak spanning 9 events across three years, holding every major shot put title.

She first won in Osaka in 2007, followed by titles in Berlin, Daegu, and now Moscow. She also secured two Olympic titles inbetween, although she was unable to stand on the dias and hear her national anthem because Nadzeya Ostapchuk from Belarus originally won the gold, but was disqualified for doping.

I was asked to provide a sketch of Valerie (then with the surname Vili) at a Celebration Luncheon in Invercargill, New Zealand in October 2007, which was presented to her. She loved it and signed a copy for me.