Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 10:56 UK

Pompey fan 'hung' in Southampton

Karl Rudziak's painting of John PFC Westwood
Mr Westwood has "PFC" engraved on his teeth

A portrait of a Portsmouth fan has put the cat amongst the pigeons between bitter football rivals.

Karl Rudziak's painting of Pompey superfan John Westwood was selected as part of a prestigious exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

But in a twist of fate the picture is now hanging in Southampton - the first stop of the exhibition's UK tour.

Mr Westwood said he was amused when he heard it would be hanging in the home city of Portsmouth's local rivals.

The fan, who changed his middle names to Portsmouth Football Club by deed poll in 1989, said: "I did smile to myself, because I thought my friends down the road won't like that one.

"But at end of the day it has nothing to do with football, it's about the talent of the artist.

"When I first looked at the portrait I thought someone had taken a photo of me, I couldn't believe the detail.

Given the rivalry there's not much light-heartedness about it - I don't think this will bridge the gap between the two teams
Clive Foley, Southampton Independent Supporters Association

"I was gobsmacked when I first thought I was going to be hung in the portrait gallery and I thought a lot people would be pleased I was going to be hung, but when they realised it was a picture of me they were disappointed."

The painting was one of 53 selected from over 1,900 entries to be part of the BP Portrait Award exhibition.

But it does not look like Saints fans will be among those flocking to appreciate the piece.

Clive Foley, from the Southampton Independent Supporters Association, said: "I haven't seen it and definitely won't be going to the gallery.

Sixty tattoos

"Given the rivalry there's not much light-heartedness about it.

"I don't think this will bridge the gap between the two teams."

Portsmouth artist Mr Rudziak said the idea of painting Mr Westwood - who has 60 Portsmouth tattoos on his body, the club crest shaved onto his head and "PFC" engraved on his teeth - occurred during Pompey's FA Cup-winning season.

He explained: "I wanted to capture something about the city of Portsmouth.

"I soon realised it wasn't about football - it was about John's identity, he uses the word 'passion' a lot and gets really emotional about it.

"All these tattoos on his body externalise his love of the football club - it's so intriguing."

The pair held several sittings, including early meetings at The Newcome Arms in Portsmouth.

The portrait emerged over eight months, and at 2m high, is the artist's biggest painting to date.



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