It’s something of a cheat putting David Bent artist into this list of ten things to celebrate about Swindon. Not because he doesn’t warrant inclusion – good gracious me no. Nothing could be further from the truth. No, no. What I mean by it being a bit of sleight of hand is that, when I set up this blog and created the aforementioned celebratory list a few years ago now, David wasn’t on it. Why not? Well because I didn’t know him and hadn’t heard of him back then.
During the last few weeks I’ve engaged myself in some blog housekeeping – I can’t say the same for my actual house – that sadly lacks housekeeping. But I digress. While doing said housekeeping I decided to rejig my Swindon top ten to include David. And that gave me the perfect chance to share this lovely article from the Royal Aero Society: Capturing the Art of Flight which tells all about David as well as I can. And I’m a big fan of not reinventing the wheel.
A bit about David’s work
To refer to the aforementioned article:
‘His original paintings include striking geometric shapes, bold colours and the fusing of aspects of the human and machine in lots of interesting and clever ways.
Iconic shapes of classic aircraft are reused and repurposed to create patterns, or even produce landscapes themselves.
Bent mainly works in acrylics on canvas for his paintings but also produces photo-collages, and at one point in his career even painted street murals.’
In the photograph above, David stands with a work called ‘Circus’. The author of the article talks about that same work and the double meanings ever-present in David’s art: the more you look the more you see.
‘A number of the paintings also have a double or hidden meaning within. Some challenge. David frames the twin images of an MQ-9B Reaper UAV with a series of black boxes. This suggests that the sinister drone is watching (or being watched) by someone in a traditional Middle East hajib.
In another example, he depicts the Red Arrows under a circus big top tent. A clear play on ‘the circus’ of blue-suited ground-crew that keep the aircraft aloft and the team flying. Look closer and you can also see the Dye Team, responsible for the Hawk’s coloured smoke. David’s painting celebrates everyone’s contribution and teamwork. In another painting, featuring Spitfires, the artist’s humour appears as he places himself in a tiny Johnny Red-style comic strip detail running from the aircraft.’
So much more than aviation art
It’s arguable that David is best known for his aviation art. Indeed he’s done much to advance the genre. But of course he does so much more. One of my very favourite pieces – well in fact a series of pieces – is Movement 2000:
Swindon: artistic cornucopia
Over the years, Swindon has produced an astonishing amount of artists of all kinds – and still does. An astonishment I gave voice to in Secret Swindon (published in 2018).
Some of these artists are Swindon born. Others are Born Again Swindonians like me. Either way – there’s so much wonderful artistic output that’s ‘Made in Swindon’. How wonderful is that?
Being a fan of much of David’s work, I love that I can include him in my own, personal, and not-definitive by any means, 10 Things to Celebrate About Swindon.
See also: https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/ – root around there and you’ll find posts about art and artists and all manner of marvellousness.
Also worthy of your interest on this broad field: