10 things to celebrate about Swindon. No 5: Ken White – Swindon’s mural man

Sunday 1st March – update with link to blog post from Creative Wiltshire: https://creativewiltshire.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/swindons-artistic-hammerman/comment-page-1/#comment-1

A nice blog post about Ken from Creative Wiltshire that has a good picture, courtesy of Swindon Libraries, of one of Ken’s sadly now long-gone murals.  Ken, as they say, like Alfred Williams – the Hammerman poet, before him began his working life in the GWR works aged 15. He began work as a sign writer in the carriage and wagon works before being persuaded to enrol at Swindon Art school. And the rest, as they say, is history.

NB: The splendid Swindon Heritage magazine people also beat the drum for Ken White’s work and for Alfred Williams too.

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Okay, so Bristol has Banksy. So what? Pah! Swindon has it’s very own resident artist in Ken White. I’ll grant you ‘Ken White’ doesn’t trip off the tongue in quite the same way that ‘Banksy’ does but he’s no less illustrious for all that!  If you haven’t heard of him and think you don’t know his work then you couldn’t be more wrong. An extract from the artist‘s website will explain:

Ken White is perhaps best known for his murals, sited in a wide variety of locations all over the world. To date, he has painted over one hundred murals.

He was, for many years, the personal artist for Virgin boss Richard Branson and has completed works for him in many Virgin establishments throughout the world, including record shops, hotels and airport lounges.

With the launch of Virgin Atlantic in 1984, Ken produced what is probably his most well known work: the “Scarlet Lady” emblem which features on all the airline’s aircraft’.  

Virgin Red Lady emblem on nose of aeroplane

Virgin Red Lady emblem

So yep. Not only has Ken painted murals all over the world he is the creator of Richard Branson’s ‘Scarlet Lady’. See, I said you’d know his work. So is he not something to celebrate about Swindon? Well, as far as I’m concerned he’s worthy of his own place on my personal selection of ‘Ten things to celebrate about Swindon’ list – which is not being compiled in any particular order – rather than being clumped under the broad umbrella of ‘Arts/culture/heritage’ of which there is so very much here in Swindon. And how fantastic is that for a start?

Ken beside on of his Swindon murals

Ken beside on of his Swindon murals

In Swindon though, he is best known for his murals, though tragically many of them are lost now due to development.  🙁  which is such a shame – I really do love a good ‘muriel’ –  as Hilda Ogden referred to hers.

You can read more about Ken’s Swindon murals on SwindonWeb but better still go to  Swindon Viewpoint where you will find numerous films of Ken.

24 Comments:

  1. Hear! Hear! Totally agree.

  2. Ken’s one my oldest friends. Great guy, lovely family. Legend!
    Paul Augustus Walters

    • Hello Paul, thanks for the contact. I don’t know Ken personally but I admire his work greatly. He is indeed a legend. Quite right!

      If you’d like to keep up with more of my posts then please follow the blog – there’s a box on the ‘Some blurb about this blog’ page. There’s also a Facebook page for the blog if you’d like to give that a ‘Like’: https://www.facebook.com/BornAgainSwindonian

      kind regards

      A

    • I’m a huge admirer of his work. I even own a small print signed by him! 🙂

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