Artist Stella misses brush with her adoring public

By Henry Deedes
Sunday 18 September 2011 22:19

The artist Stella Vine's current exhibition has been well received by the public and critics alike but it has not all been plain sailing for the organisers.

The Britart painter's work, which famously includes portraits of celebrity icons such as Kate Moss and Diana, Princess of Wales, is on display until Sunday at the Modern Art Oxford gallery.

The show got off to a shaky start back in July when Vine failed to show up at the press launch or any of the subsequent private viewings, despite the gallery organisers promising her appearance. Now she has decided to withdraw at the last minute from a talk with Germaine Greer, which was due to take place at the gallery tonight. Those who bought tickets for the sold-out event have been told they will have to make do with Greer conversing with the gallery's (decidedly less starry) director, Andrew Nairne.

"No, Stella won't be taking part in the talk on Tuesday evening. We think she may have pulled out for personal reasons," a spokesman for Modern Art Oxford said yesterday. "As for her coming into the gallery, she was in here all the time while we were getting things set up because she was overseeing the installation. But you are right, she didn't come to the opening party."

Unfortunately, Vine did not return my calls about tonight's no-show, but her apparent reticence to step into the spotlight does not appear to have hampered her career commercially in any way. I'm told that all of the works in the exhibition have already found buyers.

Peaches is happy to parade her pear shape

As someone who once waspishly compared the fashion commentator Trinny Woodall to "an anorexic drag queen", Peaches Geldof has always held strong views when it comes to fashion. So it should come as no surprise to hear her, at the launch of London Fashion Week, attacking the industry's supposed obsession with size-zero models.

"I'm really comfortable with the way I am," she told me at a party for the Moët Mirage art installation on Sunday. "I've never had any hassle from anyone but then I'm not really a model. I'm a size eight on the top and a 10 on the bottom. I'm happy to be representing the bigger lady."

It's an admirable sentiment from Geldof, who had spent the day making her catwalk debut for the label PPQ, though some might say you would be hard-pushed to describe her as the bigger lady.

"Well, the mildly bigger lady," added the 18-year-old.

Ifans is a strapping actor

The actor Rhys Ifans has reaffirmed his commitment to London's bustling party circuit. Last weekend, the Welsh scruffpot pitched up at Covent Garden's edgy new nightclub, Bungalow 8, on the arm of his glamorous chum Sienna Miller.

His appearance was not only a miracle of endurance (he was snapped out partying almost every night last week) but was all the more impressive because he was sporting what appeared to be a heavily strapped ankle.

"I've just finished speaking to him and he never mentioned it," says a spokesman. "So I can only assume it is nothing serious."

Ifans, 39, is said to be crashing on Miller's sofa at her home in Primrose Hill. Make of that what you will.

Top Twigg

The Twiggster returns! After an absence of more than two years, the former New Labour minister Stephen Twigg has reached the first rung on the greasy pole that he hopes will return him to the corridors of power in Westminster.

Twigg is probably best remembered as the MP who subjected a red-faced Michael Portillo to an embarrassing defeat in Enfield Southgate in the 1997 general election. He subsequently went on to surrender the seat back to the Tories in 2005.

On Sunday night, Twigg announced his comeback by being elected to fight the safe Labour seat of Liverpool West Derby, after its incumbent, the rebel Bob Wareing, was deselected.

The River Café, 20 years on

It is 20 years ago this week that Ruth Rogers began preparing stylish Italian food at London's River Café. By way of celebration, the chef shut up shop for the day yesterday and treated her staff to a day out at Cliveden, the Italianate stately home in Buckinghamshire now run as a five-star hotel. "There are about 70 of us in all, just relaxing and having a quiet celebration," she told me. "We're going to play croquet later and we have a cake ready too."

Aside from the River Café's recognisable clientele (it was said to be Tony Blair's favourite restaurant), its kitchens have spawned culinary celebrities such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. "Today, we are paying tribute to everyone who worked here, but we've only brought the staff who are with us now," Rogers added.

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