Marcel Marceau - Cockburn Gallery Exhibition
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The latest exhibition at Cockburn Gallery in Maybole is a tribute to the internationally acclaimed mime artist Marcel Marceau who died on September 22. A young Gordon Cockburn was interested in mime and such artistes a Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin as well as Marcel Marceau.


This was in the 1970s and Gordon got the mime’s phone number and contacted him. They met in Paris and got on very well together. Since then Gordon has painted hundreds of portraits of the Frenchman although he now only has a few left as they were snapped up by collectors mainly since he opened his gallery in Maybole a couple of years ago. When Gordon moved back to Maybole he lost touch with Marcel as he too moved home and Gordon was told that his friend had died.


Gordon’s son was on the Internet one day and found that, in fact, Marcel was alive and had just returned from Australia. Gordon was in touch and spoke to him on the telephone. They arranged to meet in six weeks time so Gordon was devastated to hear that his friend had died of a heart attack in his house of Cahors, France at the age of 84 . He was buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Gordon is a great admirer of Marcel’s work and says that the display in his gallery is in remembrance of the world’s greatest mime.


“He was a very brave resistance fighter during World War II,” says Gordon, “and he saved the lives of many Jewish children.” Gordon has one regret, that Marcel never saw the Maybole artist’s exhibition “Auschwitz”. Marcel’s father Charles was arrested by the Gestapo and died in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. The present display features a few paintings of the mime artist dressed as his creation "Bip" the clown, in his striped pullover and battered hat. Gordon says that Bip was based on Charles Dickens’ character Pip in “Great Expectations”.


“I was tremendously fond of Marcel,” Gordon adds “ and I have letters from him signed Bip!” “Some years ago he phoned me and told me to go to Glasgow,” Gordon continues, “and I met Dame Margot Fonteyn.” He adds, “He was a great influence on many people, including Michael Jackson.” The singer’s "moonwalk" dance was inspired by the French mime’s Walking Against the Wind routine. The Frenchman also starred in films, was an author, and he was a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. The French Government awarded him its highest honour, making him an "Officier de la Légion d'honneur" which Gordon mentions in his display.