Spens commits Copacabana memories to canvas

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016 – Peter Spens has one of the most enviable positions at the Copacabana Beach Arena for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games beach volleyball tournament. 

He sits courtside, almost within touching distance of the players and only a few small steps to the court. He isn’t a referee, or a court official nor a cameraman or photographer. 

He is the court painter. 

Spens has been hard at work since the beach volleyball competition began on August 6, painting two temporal collages of the action on court and in the stands. They will be unveiled at his studio, Cranley Gallery in London following Rio 2016 when 100 prints will go on sale. 

It isn’t the first time that Spens has been involved in painting sporting scenes. He was official artist at the beach volleyball at Horse Guard’s Parade during the London 2012 Olympic Games and subsequently was artist in resident at Cheltenham Race Court for three years. He then returned to the Olympic theme as venue artist at the London Olympic Stadium during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. 

“It began by accident,” he said. “I was painting on Millbank Tower in London and met an Olympic Broadcast Services crew who were looking for vantage points during the London Games. They filmed two reports about me and my work and it went from there.”

Spens studied at Bristol Art College and spent seven years living near Mont Ventoux in southern France before he returned to London in 1995 and began painting London scenes. 

He admits to being a keen amateur tennis player and managed to slip away from Copacabana to watch Great Britain’s Andy Murray retain his men’s singles gold medal. He also enjoyed swimming off Copa before the 12-hour days he was working during the opening week meant he had to conserve as much energy as possible. 

While he spends a large part of the day on his feet, has to wear ear plugs to dampen the noise of the Copacabana crowd and is missing a family holiday with his wife and two sons, Spens is certainly enjoying the experience. 

“It is fascinating and mentally and physically challenging,” he said, “but definitely worth it.”

For more information about Peter Spens and his work visit


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