In his long career as a silhouette artist Charles Burns has cut many notable portraits, including two silhouettes of the Queen.
Charles was born in London in 1961 and educated at Ampleforth, a catholic boarding school in North Yorkshire. Here he was taught to draw in the classical tradition by the sculptor John Bunting, himself a student of Leon Underwood. Later he attended art colleges in Exeter, Wolverhampton and Lyon, France, graduating with a 1st class Hons degree in Fine Art (painting) in 1984.
On leaving art college he worked for many years as a street artist in London’s Covent Garden, initially drawing 10-minute portraits in pencil and later cutting silhouettes. He naturally moved from there to the corporate events and entertainment market, where he found an audience quite different from the world of fine art. He has appeared at all kinds of venues and cut over 150,000 profiles, including two portraits of the Queen, President Clinton (while visiting the National Portrait Gallery) and the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as a large number of TV personalities, writers, artists and sporting celebrities.
Charles currently lives with his family in Reading, where he has converted a small eighteenth-century barn for use as a painting studio. The barn can double as an ad-hoc gallery and is opened to the public on various occasions each year.