The Full Monty actor & artist Steve Huison launches Portraits show at Pyramid Gallery. Who are the dozen faces in the frame?

Barbara Marten, York actor, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison. “I’ve known Barbara for over 40 years and have followed her shining career with interest. She’s a very kind, thoughtful and knowledgeable woman, and I think this emanates through her eyes,” says Steve

ACTOR and artist Steve Huison will launch his Portraits exhibition at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, with a personal appearance from 4pm to 7pm tomorrow (11/7/2024).

Best known for his role as suicidal steel-mill security guard Lomper in The Full Monty, Leeds-born Huison is exhibiting 12 studies of colleagues in the acting profession, musicians who have inspired him, an adventurous chef and a famous clown.

Before his success as an actor, Steve had studied at art school. Near the end of a 30-month stint playing Eddie Windass in Coronation Street from November 2008 to April 2011, he rediscovered his talent as a portrait artist, culminating in a charity event featuring portraits of Corrie cast members.

Mike Keen, chef, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison. “A chef with a difference. I’ve followed his career over the last couple of years as he’s kayaked his way up the west coast of Greenland, existing on eating what he finds along the way. In doing so he has brought his metabolism to a near perfect condition,” says Steve. “His health and vitality shines through his face.’

‘It seemed a valuable opportunity to capture portraits of some of the cast,” he recalls. “I wanted to try to portray them as the people I had got to know rather than their better-known characters. The extensive publicity turned out to be a good kick-starter for my evolving post-soap career.”

Other art forms constantly distract Steve’s attention. “They ignite new ideas for me, which I am never short of,” he says. “Once they’re in there rattling around in my mind I have to try them out. Consequently, I can turn my hand to a variety of creative outlets, including acting, stand-up, singing, drawing, painting, sculpting, carving, magic, escapology and a variety of musical instruments.”

Steve, 61, has been focusing on portrait painting for the past ten years when his acting commitments permit. While living in Robin Hood’s Bay he ran regular portrait drawing classes for complete beginners, an activity he has now moved to West Yorkshire since relocating in 2023.

Arnold Oceng, actor, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison. “I first met Arnold on set of the Disney production of The Full Monty. As soon as he walked on set I was instantly drawn to the beautiful lustre of his skin. I decided at that point to attempt to paint his portrait,” says Steve

The move followed filming for The Full Monty series for Disney+, when he reactivated his role as a much older version of Lomper. Fellow Full Monty actors Paul Barber, Arnold Oceng and Wim Snape are now among the portraits in his Pyramid Gallery show.

Steve first exhibited at Pyramid Gallery in July 2016, presenting A Year In Bay, his artistic response to his move to a new community in Robin Hood’s Bay, where he “had no contacts or connections, and witnessed how new relationships are formed, and how people go out of their way to help strangers”.

Wim Snape, actor, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison. “Wim is an old friend, and even though he’s only 39, I feel we’ve travelled through an interesting parallel journey together over 28 years. Wim played the 11-year-old Nathan in The Full Monty and went on to reprise the role in the Disney+ series of 2023,” says Steve

A second Pyramid show, Musings Of An Erratic Mind, followed in July 2018, its title reflecting his realisation that “I have a collection of work that bears little resemblance to each other, but says everything about how my mind and creativity works”.

Now comes Portraits, featuring actors Paul Barber, Arnold Oceng, Barbara Marten, Will Snape, Clarence Smith and Joe Duttine, counsellor and therapist Dr Tanya Frances, chef Mike Keen, Swiss clown Grock and musicians Abdullah Ibrahim, Quentin Rawlings and Flora Hibberd.

Steve Huison, Portraits, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, July 11 to August 31. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

Steve Huison: the back story

Artist Steve Huison. Portrait by Pyramid Gallery owner and curator Terry Brett

Birthplace: Leeds, December 2 1962, born Steven Johnson.

Height: 6ft 1in.

Education: Rose Bruford College, Sidcup, diploma in Community Theatre Arts, 1983 to 1986.

Occupation: Actor, artist, arts administrator, musician, master of ceremonies (Cabaret Saltaire, Caroline Club, since February 2011).

Best known for: Playing Lomper in 1997 film The Full Monty, made in Sheffield. Reprised role in 2023 Disney+ series The Full Monty.

Film: Ken Loach’s The Navigators, 2001.

Television: Casualty; Where The Heart Is; dinnerladies (as Steve Greengrass); Heartbeat; The Royle Family; Scott & Bailey; ITV post-apocalyptic drama serial The Last Train (also known as Cruel Earth); Doctors. From January 2008, porter Norman Dunstan in ITV1 daily hospital drama The Royal Today. From November 2008 to April 2011, Eddie Windass in Coronation Street. 2012, Mr Byron in CBBC series 4 O’Clock Club. 2023, The Full Monty, Disney +.

Theatre: Co-founder of Shoestring Theatre Company, in Shipley, 2002. Made pantomime debut at Harrogate Theatre as dame Nanny Clutterbuck in The Sleeping Beauty in 2006 and returned as gurning, knock-kneed King Keith in Sleeping Beauty in 2013. In 2007, toured one-man play Fifty Feet And Falling, based on diaries of a friend who struggled with depression and took his own life.

Improv comedy: Cabaret Saltaire, creating characters such as Squinty McGinty and Korvorra Czeztikov.

Abdullah Ibrahim, pianist and composer, oil painting, by Steve Huison. “A giant of a South African jazz musician. His music has inspired me to take up the bass guitar in the last few years,” says Steve
Clarence Smith, actor, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison, from a photo by Helen Maybanks. “I first met Clarence in the summer of 1982 on a wild night in a flat in Queensway, London. We went on to train as actors together. 42 years later and we’re still in touch,” says Steve. “Still an amazingly good-looking man considering those wild times back then, and no doubt since.”
Flora Hibberd, singer-songwriter, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison. “An up-and-coming Paris-based singer/songwriter. Her music has resonances for me of Leonard Cohen and classic French chanteuses such as Françoise Hardy,” says Steve. “The portrait is from an original photograph by Marie Yako.”
Dr Tanya Frances, counsellor and therapist, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison. “Tanya is someone I’ve observed go from strength to strength in the 17 years that I’ve known her. I first had the privilege of working with her at Harrogate Theatre before she successfully switched careers,” says Steve
Joe Duttine, actor, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison. “I got to know Joe through working with him on a Ken Loach film back in 2000. He’s a fine actor who brings true conviction to all his roles,” says Steve
Grock the clown, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison. “At the height of his career, Charles Wettach (1880-1959) was the highest-paid performer in Europe. I was first given a black-and-white postcard 25 years ago. It’s an image that has stayed with me ever since, often inspiring me in many comedic projects. I just had to see how it would look larger and in colour,” says Steve
Paul Barber, actor, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison. “I first worked with Paul on a BBC screenplay in 1992. Despite his tumultuous upbringing in care, Paul has managed to carve out a gleaming career in the industry and still bears no airs and graces. A true gentleman and a dear brother,” says Steve.
Quentin Rawlings, musician, oil on canvas, by Steve Huison. “I met ‘Q’ over 35 years ago, playing sessions with him in the White Stag in Leeds. He’s a wonderful musician and was the first guitarist I played with who used open tuning. It amazed me then and still does,” says Steve. “I’ve never climbed out of the standard tuning box – there are still new tricks to learn.”