Doherty’s 1997 Crucible Win Immortalised

Ken Doherty’s moment of triumph at the 1997 World Championship has been captured on the canvas by portrait artist John Donaldson, 25 years on from claiming the Crucible crown with a famous win over Stephen Hendry.

Donaldson has worked with a number of famous figures across the world of sport and has recently started portraying a number of top snooker players including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Stuart Bingham and Jimmy White. He is currently in the early stages of a montage portrait of Neil Robertson’s Triple Crown successes.

We recently caught up with Ken and John to see the painting and find out more about it…

Ken, it is an amazing painting of your World Championship win. How did it come about?

Doherty: “John contacted me on social media and said he would like to do a painting. He did a few for other ones for World Champions like Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Stuart Bingham. I said that I would love one. I sent him a photograph of that night and he has come up with this painting that looks like a photograph itself. He’s even made me look good! I am really happy with it and I’m blown away. I didn’t know what to expect, but it is just fantastic.”

How many memories does the painting evoke for you?

Doherty: “It is quite poignant that he got it finished this year, with it being the 25th anniversary. I just remember lifting the cup up and seeing my friends up in the balcony after beating Stephen Hendry. They are incredible memories and it feels like it was yesterday, it has gone so quickly. Every time I’m in at the Crucible or in Sheffield the memories always come flooding back. It was a dream come true for me. I dreamed of lifting that trophy when Alex Higgins did it in 1982 and Dennis Taylor did it in 1985. I wanted to emulate them and to do that was like all my birthdays coming at once.”

John, congratulations on a fantastic piece of work. Give us an idea of how the artistic process unfolds.

Donaldson: “This one took just over 40 hours, others have taken up to 60, but it just depends. It can vary depending on how many images you are using, as I sometimes do montage paintings. I get all of the outlines from the main photo, but I tried to make this particular painting all about Ken. There were originally people in the background from the audience, but I’ve kept them in only as shadows so the focus is on Ken. All subjects are the same as anyone else really, whether they are Snoop Dogg, Ronnie or Ken. I am a snooker fan though, so I feel really privileged to have done this 25 years on from Ken’s World Championship win.”

How did you end up working with Snoop Dogg?

Donaldson: “He was looking for artists to create for his website and merchandise. Originally I thought it was a joke, but his social media team messaged me to say that he would be following my Instagram profile as verification. I checked and it was legitimate. We have stayed in touch and message about other hip hop artists I work for like Ice Cube and other members from NWA. I’ve done quite a few footballers as well, I did Kevin Keegan recently. I’ve also done boxers like Frank Bruno and Tyson Fury.”

Finally Ken, where are you going to hang the painting up?

Doherty: “I’ll take it back to Dublin and put in my snooker room. John is going to give me some smaller canvasses because Stephen Hendry and I are going to do a few charity nights around Ireland. I might even sign one and give it to Stephen for his bedroom as well!”