The granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin is paying tribute to the movie icon by painting £10,000 portraits of him. Laura Chaplin, 29, plans to bring some of the images of her late grandfather to London later this year to tie in with the 40th anniversary of his death – he died at the age of 88 at home in Switzerland. "I've been drawing my grandfather ever since I can remember," Laura tells HELLO! in an exclusive interview and photoshoot at her converted farmhouse in Switzerland. "We used to have a lot of visitors when I was a little girl and they would buy my sketches for a few francs. Now it's my passion, my vocation, and I paint every day."
Laura opened up about her work
Her work is so popular that it is now displayed in exhibitions all over Europe. But Swiss-born Laura is also keen to show her work in this country, where she lived from the age of 11 after her parents Eugene and Bernadette divorced. "I would love to show my portraits in the UK," Laura says. "Although I never got the chance to meet my grandfather – he died ten years before I was born - I feel a close connection with him. I've inherited his artistic and creative genes, and his perfectionism. He also gave me the importance of laughter. I've seen how it affects people and like him, feel the need to make people smile."
Laura discovered her artistic abilities after she painted a Pop Art picture for her mother’s birthday, and when an art gallery in Montreux learnt of her talent, she was asked to compile her work for an exhibition. "The only problem was that I didn’t have any paintings to display," she says, "so the gallery gave me a year to prepare some pieces. I painted 60 portraits, which was very exciting. Six years down the line, I haven’t stopped."
However, Laura revealed that her family were at first reluctant to embrace her artistic career. "My family was against it," she recalls. "They didn't want me painting Chaplin because they were worried about the criticism I might face, coming from this huge heritage. I'm glad I listened to my heart and they're very proud of me. It's a privilege to hold my grandfather's name."
Laura boasts incredible connections too. Her father, Charlie’s son Eugene, was a recording engineer who worked with many of rock music’s greats, including the Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Queen, and Laura recalls how Michael Jackson would drop by in his helicopter. "Dad recorded Michael’s album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, and he told me that his favourite song of all time was Smile, written by my grandfather [Charlie composed the music]. I got up on stage with Michael at a concert in Switzerland and we'd often speak on the phone. He was such a sweet, caring man who became a great friend."
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