For the first time, Ella Spira MBE and Neil Anthony Edwards unite to share the same canvas.
Both have garnered global success in arts, music and sport, and together embrace their multidisciplinary talents unapologetically.
Born and raised in Gloucester, England, Jewish-British Spira is a London & New York based purpose driven visual artist, Grammy-nominated composer, and the co-founder of award-winning theatre production company Sisters Grimm whose critically acclaimed show INALA a Zulu ballet is relaunching as a permanent show in the West End next year.
She is internationally recognised for her global cross-cultural arts collaborations designed to build bridges.
Deeply influenced by her Jewish heritage and family history as a third generation Holocaust survivor, Ella has dedicated her life to celebrating and foregrounding underrepresented cultures. Her paintings have been used in diplomatic relations, she received an MBE from King Charles III in 2021 and her work has now been performed and exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Hampton Court Palace, Sadler’s Wells, Dubai Opera, Marina Bay Sands and Raffles in Singapore, the Edinburgh International Festival and London’s West End. Spira’s music videos featuring her visual art and music have garnered over 10 million views worldwide. Most recently her multimedia art exhibition “Global Landscapes Retrospective” opened at Carnegie Hall and over $1million US dollars worth of Spira’s paintings have sold in the last 18 months.
Edwards is a renowned New York based artist and former NBA player who has presented his artwork in solo exhibitions such as Clover’s Fine Art Gallery, NY (2020 and 2021) and Art Basel Miami (2021) and Hamptons Fine Art Fair (2022).
Both artists exemplify that people shouldn’t be pigeonholed and that dedication and focus in one area can be channelled into other outputs. Their coming together reinforces that message.
This cross-cultural collaboration continues Spira’s dedication to celebrating diversity and inclusion.
The artists have complimenting skill sets. Spira has travelled the world spreading a message of environmentalism and conservation through her Global Landscapes series painted always in situ en plein air. Edwards’s work is bold, imaginative, and graphic.
The work is a symbol of true collaboration and achieving greater strength in coming together.
“I approached Ella at her event Global Landscapes Retrospective at Carnegie Hall because I was extremely impressed with her body of work. Being a world-renowned composer, producer, humanitarian and also a talented visual artist. Ella reminded me a bit of myself, who I consider to also be multifaceted. I loved that she didn’t consider herself just one dimensional, nor did she rest on her laurels, but continues to push the bar of her talents.”
The painting titled “Mara au Naturel” is of Edwards’s beloved wife Zamara, who has been a part of the collaboration from the outset.
The couple attended Spira’s Global Landscapes Retrospective at Carnegie Hall and met Spira for the first time together.
Zamara is a driving force, always by Neil’s side, to honour their partnership and the collaboration being with both of them, Spira suggested the painting be of her.
This is the first time Edwards has painted Zamara.
How was it sharing a canvas with another artist for the first time?
The chemistry between the artists was instantaneous. Spira describes the experience, as “magical- It felt immensely respectful and full to the brim of joint admiration. The three of us were all equally vulnerable, Zamara being nude and in bed modelling and Neil and I sharing a canvas painting his wife.”
The artwork is reminiscent of the post-impressionist Masters and works such as Van Goghs The bedroom and Vuillard’s interiors come to mind with parallels to Andrew Wyeth’s Christina.