Artist in Residencies
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I had a wonderful week at Bentley Priory in May 2019, here are some of the highlights.
My 'studio' for the week, Dowding's office is just the other side of the wall.
The week was all about inviting children to help me paint my new Battle of Britain painting which they all did with great care and skill. (photo by Paul Tricker)
By the end of the week, over 40 children had contributed to the painting, each one signing their name on the back of the canvas and receiving a signed certificate.
By the end of the week, the painting was about half complete, the idea is to portray all squadrons that flew with Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain as a symbolic tribute to The Few. I'll now finish this back in the studio and the plan is to create a jigsaw of the art in time for the 80th Anniversary year.
On the final day we were delighted to welcome Battle of Britain pilot Archie McInnes to launch his book but also to paint his Hurricane on the canvas!
Another special guest on the final day was James Brown, owner and pilot of Hurricane R4118 who also added his unique aircraft to the scene.
The final day with Archie and Jonny Cracknell who wrote Archie's biography in the famous Rotunda at Bentley Priory, I'm very proud to have nine of my paintings hanging in this famous room.
...and finally I have to mention the outstanding cafe downstairs!
Bentley Priory Museum really is an exceptional place to visit. Knowledgeable and friendly staff and guides, child friendly exhibits and above all, the spiritual home of The Few.
I'll post a photo of the completed painting as soon as it's finished!
The museum's website is here https://bentleypriorymuseum.org.uk
In 1987 Mark became the first ever Artist in Residence at the Royal Air Force Museum Hendon in what was the first major exhibition of his work.
In 2012, Mark returned to the museum to take up residency once again for two weeks to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the first event.
Artist in Residencies take many forms but Mark's approach has always been to involve the public as much as possible in whatever he does. So for the first week Mark sat and painted the Westland Lysander in the Battle of Britain Hall and in the second week Mark painted the Harrier in the Milestones of Flight Hall.
With both paintings Mark invited children to help him paint the canvases by adding a bit of cloud or painting some background details. This of course meant that they had to sign the back of the painting as a co-artist which proved to be great fun for all concerned and a highlight of their visit for many of the children.
Apart from the painting sessions Mark also gave illustrated talks in various locations around the museum and chatted to visitors about all aspects of the museum's aircraft and exhibits.
At the end of the two weeks, the feedback from both visitors and Museum staff was overwhelmingly positive. Mark also enjoyed the experience and would be happy to consider a similar project in the future. The Harrier painting now hangs in the RAF Museum Collection signed of course on the back by many budding artists of the future.