By Jasper Rees
A little too often, Alan Yentob’s Imagine… films focus on absolute legends in their slightly boring anecdotage. Chris Ofili – The Caged Bird’s Song (BBC Two) was not one of those films. Though Ofili won the Turner Prize nearly two decades ago, has lately been created a CBE, and even has the odd sprig of grey in his hair, he came across as a restlessly curious artist in his prime, with plenty more to say and do.
This was the story of a remarkable commission. Invited by the Clothworker’s Company to design a tapestry, he submitted a vast, shimmering watercolour inspired by his adoptive Trinidad. Not an easy image to weave. “You’re a bit of a sadist, aren’t you?” suggested Yentob.
Nothing could seem further from the truth. I’ve no wish to stereotype creative geniuses, but they’re seldom like Ofili. What a lovely bloke. Modest, too. Yentob compared him to Titian, Goya and Rembrandt. “I think I would be the first lamb they would slaughter if I was in among that lot,” Ofili said gently.