Launch of Robert Maltby’s Crimson Iris: The Art of Sophie.

You’ve probably heard about the charity we work closely with, the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. For those that don’t know about it, here’s a quick summary:

Sophie was beaten to death nearly three years ago because she was alternative, because she looked different. Her boyfriend Robert Maltby was also attacked, but survived.

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation was set up by her mum, Sylvia, who has dedicated her life to promoting tolerance, understanding and respect for all subcultures.

It’s a charity we’ve taken into our hearts, working with Sylvia to do everything we can to ensure the foundation thrives and achieves what it’s there to do – educate young people about subcultures, and make a difference in Sophie’s name.

A lot’s been achieved since the incident in August 2007, but Robert has kept a low profile, until now…

At the time of the attack Rob was an extremely talented artist, studying art at Uni, but afterwards he struggled to continue.

Slowly, he’s got back into it, and last December, he announced to our very own Julian Kynaston that he was ready to help the charity though his art.

The collection ‘Crimson Iris: The Art Of Sophie’ was born. The set of 15 brilliant canvases of varying sizes, inspired by Sophie, are absolutely breathtaking.

What’s more, look closer, and you will see collectively they tell a story, or a riddle, as Rob describes it. From one to 15, they have the most intriguing titles and small details that link them all and allow you to see a story from different perspectives.

Finally, the night of the launch came. Last night, at the sumptuous Blackdog Ballroom in Manchester, we unveiled the collection to a collective and diverse audience of international media, art enthusiasts, musicians, friends, family, fans, CEOs and young alternatives. And what a celebration it was…


It was a media circus, with long lenses and camera crews all over the place.


Nobody escaped being interviewed or photographed by ITV, The BBC, The One Show, Rock FM, Bizarre Magazine, all the local press, and even international radio stations.


The event was sponsored by rock guitar brand, Jackson, part of Fender. They were amazing and gave Rob a Dinky Guitar to design and paint, which was out of this world.

The Jackson representative was so impressed he nearly fell over when he saw it, and it auctioned of a cool £1,000 – which all went to the charity.


And for those who couldn’t quite stretch to a painting or a bespoke guitar, Illamasqua was on hand to sell its gorgeous black SOPHIE eye pencils. So the young alternatives were happy… and even more money was raised for the charity.

One of the biggest accomplishments of the night – apart from selling THREE paintings, worth £2,000 (more on that in a minute) – was how well Rob did.


Apart from producing this collection, he came to Manchester, faced hundreds of people and carried out non-stop media interviews and pictures for – no exaggeration – four and a half hours. What a star.

Back to the paintings, Julian, who snapped his up before the collection was complete, bought one. A MD of a local business bought the second, and Joe Corre – Vivian Westwood’s son and the man behind Agent Provocateur – bought the third. Rob was thrilled!!

The collection is now set to be installed in an exhibition space on the 1st floor of Afflecks in Manchester, and from tomorrow lunchtime, anyone can view the entire collection, try and work out the riddle, and even purchase one. It’s for a great cause – The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

Thank you to:

The Blackdog Ballroom, which let us use the venue for free. Afflecks, which has given us free exhibition space throughout June. All at Jackson Guitars – who are gorgeous, generous and very, very cool. Illamasqua – which just keeps on giving and supporting the charity.

See our latest project for The Sophie Lancaster Foundation here.

Posted by Claire Anderson.