In recent years I’ve acknowledged remembrance day through the free art project, using various poppy motifs as my designs.
This year I wanted to try something different, but I didn’t know where to start. I then received an unexpected commission, to make a multi layered stencil art work of a Supermarine Spitfire, and I set to work. This was a fiddly process trying to ensure that each stencil layer lined up and matched, but after a few attempts, I got there.
During a conversation with the recipient of the art, I began to find out more about this place called Kenley Airfield. The airfield was of vital significance during WWII and it is now the most intact airfield of its time. As I learned more about the place and its history – we began to discuss remembrance. I suggested that we could reprise the spitfire design as a new way for me to acknowledge remembrance.
Remembrance Day approaches, a day I have mixed feelings about. I’m anti war – too old now but I always said if I was conscripted as a younger man, I’d refuse. I do however think it is important to remember the horrors we have inflicted on one another, the wasted lives and shattered families, even though we don’t seem to be very good at learning from history.
This year’s remembrance free art drop is titled ‘Ghost Squadron’. It’s a limited edition of four spitfire silhouettes in traditional airforce green, set against a grey sky lit with a thousand silver stars. Each piece will be signed and numbered, before being hidden for people to find in the usual way. Clues to the whereabouts of the art works will be posted on my Facebook page.
I recently joined a Facebook artist’s group for people with an interest in stencil cutting and spray painting. I’ve been cutting for a while now, making pretty simple designs, sometimes adding more complexity through developing multi layered stencils, and on the whole, keeping it simple.
Being in this new group is proving to be a really useful experience for me. I’m seeing people working at varying levels of expertise, folk are really generous with their knowledge, sharing tips and ideas, and encouragement too.
One of the reasons this group came into existence, is to invite people to make single layer stencils for a forthcoming exhibition. I’ve been wanting to take part, watching and waiting. Earlier this week, I decided to stop wanting, and start making. I drew a design, and began to cut. Several patient hours later, I have my stencil.
In case you are interested, I thought I’d share some work in progress photos with you, including one where I almost ended up with a beehive hairdo design!
Joining this group has encouraged me to up my game : Ask questions, try something new, be patient, keep going. I am particularly grateful to Korp and WinnieMMay for kicking this project off, and to everyone who is providing encouragement.
Next steps are to think about the spray. What kind of surface will I put the design on to? Will I design a background? More to follow…
This poem was written by Adrian Thirkell in 2018, after Adrian came across my Japanese Cherry Blossom painting online. I’ve never met Adrian, yet he offered his art freely, and kindly agreed I could share it with you. His offer slipped my mind, until I got one of those ‘One year ago’ memory jogger thingies from Facebook yesterday. Finally, a year after it was written, and coincidentally on the Spring Equinox of 2019 – here it is.
The morning tree is hung, profuse, in blossom. Speaks from every budding flower Of how, notwithstanding that a vial of poison May leech us of our love, turn all things sour, We may find ourselves again renewed, And from each cast of air strewn light Absorb upon the skin, then through and through, The means to our own blossoming, and free of blight. And then we wake to more transcendent mood; Each bloom, unfettered, calls the spirit up. To speak, we make emollients of every word And every touch distills the petals’ sap.
If you would like to own a copy of the picture which inspired the poem, it is available on Etsy as a signed numbered limited edition A4 print, as an A5 print, and as a greeting card. Thanks in advance for your support.