His links to Lincolnshire are many but the more obscure one which prompted his inclusion in one of my paintings is a rather striking and enormous sculpture hanging forebodingly on the exterior of one of Lincoln’s theatres. It is a sort of metallic mask, grim-looking and glaring and with an expression that seems to change with the weather – and it was that that I wanted to paint.
It turns out that whilst the sculpture is not based on his likeness, the nice chaps at the Drill Hall theatre have nicknamed it “Old Joe”, after Mr Ruston himself – and without whom the Drill Hall would not have been built.
A little further searching led me to discover some marvellous old photographs of the actual “Old Joe” Ruston. In one he had snazzy pince-nez clamped firmly to his nez and sported an extraordinary moustache! So after seeing that, I really couldn’t not paint him into the picture.