After hearing the news of Neil Peart’s death earlier this week – my thoughts turned to how I might acknowledge his life through the free art project. I wanted to reference his lyrics and connect these with a design familiar to Rush fans.
The song Afterimage opens with the lines:
Suddenly, you were gone
From all the lives you left your mark upon
The song later begins to conclude with:
I learned your love for life
I feel the way that you would
I feel your presence
Neil Peart was a private person, and news of his ill health had successfully been kept from the media – so in that respect, his death came as a shock. These words feel apt.
As an image – I chose to adapt the Rush Starman design originally by Hugh Syme. Peart once described the design as ‘the abstract man against the masses’. I’ve chosen to represent the design with tiny dots – and sought to create a fading out appearance towards the bottom of the design. ‘Afterimage’ will be the next free art drop and it will be accompanied by a print out of this blog post.
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’ve been playing with various poppy designs for about three years now, and I am in the habit of making a batch of poppy images around the time of Remembrance Day in the UK. As well as a piece of remembrance art, these pieces also speak to me of the blood and tears of war. This year I’ve decided to offer the poppies for sale, and donate some of the proceeds to the Royal British Legion poppy appeal.
Each artwork is painted using Winsor and Newton professional water colours on Aquarelle Arches satin grain 300g/m2 hot pressed 100% cotton paper. Each piece is 10cm x 25cm and will be signed then mounted using 100% acid free tape into conservation grade mount board. I’m selling these for £45 plus £5 P&P each, with a donation of £10 for every sale. The second and sixth in the series have already been sold. Number three has been given away as a free art drop and I destroyed number five, it just didn’t work! Contact me if you’d like to buy one of the remaining artworks, and in so doing, help support a good cause.