David Bent: choosing Swindon

Long time and regular listeners will know that when I first began this blog I conceived my personal list of ‘Ten things to celebrate about Swindon’.  

I’m actually not at all sure I ever got that list finished – so much is there here in Swindon that is blog worthy.

Anyway, in these earlier posts, one of my 10 things was/is the Swindon-born artist Ken White.  And, as an actual son of Swindon and acclaimed artist, Ken deserves a place on this blog.

Yet, what I didn’t know then and have slowly learnt as Born again Swindonian has tottered along, is that this town is home to a whole Guggenheim of artistic talent of all types.

So one glaring omission now being rectified, is David Bent.

It was only when a furore with Katie Hopkins kicked off earlier this year that David and his work came onto my radar. And I realised that he too should be featured on this blog.

 And that was only because David’s lovely wife Carole is involved with Better Swindon. In that capacity she, along with your very own blogger extraordinaire, received an invitation onto BBC Wiltshire to respond to Ms Hopkin’s verbal diarrhoea.

So I guess we have something to thank her for eh?  

So anyway, life being as it is it’s taken until now for Carole and I to meet. I wasn’t able to get to their recent open studio weekend. So Carole kindly invited me to their home to have a chat, meet David and look round the studio.

David Bent choosing swindon - David Bent and 'Circus'
David Bent and ‘Circus’

Aviation art and more

Image from Art of flight website
Image from Art of flight website

David is known as an aviation artist. But there’s much more to his work than that as his website will tell you.

His wife Carole has given me lots of really interesting information about David, his work and his support of, and contribution to, our less-than-perfect but much-loved Swindon. So I’ve drawn the rest of this post from that.

I mentioned above the Open Studios event – something that David has supported for the last ten years. One year there was just him and two other artists doing it to keep the event alive.

As alluded to above, and as Carole says:

His work is diverse – covering social issues , landscape geometry and more. But his niche interest in aviation is the strand that he is best known for”. She goes on to say that: ‘Having first shown this work in a B&Q tent at the far edge of the airfield at Fairford, his work in the aviation sector has spread far and wide over the past decade. David is credited with leading a new movement in modern aviation art.

Solo exhibitions over the past 10 years have been held at the Royal International Air Tattoo. With Dave’s artwork appearing on the giant billboards from Paddington station to sites across the country.

Flying High

Farnborough International , the Cotswolds VIP , the Dubai International Air Show & the Royal Tent @ the Al Ain Aerobatics Air Show , UAE. 

Supporters of  Dave’s work include the Red Arrows who invited him to collaborate as artist in residence in 2007 . A celebratory book – a collaboration between Dave , the Red Arrows & Breitling was presented by Red 1 to HRH Prince Charles at RIAT 2014

 In 2012/ 2013 the RAF Museum hosted ” Fresh Air ” a year long retrospective of Dave’s work – the first of its kind for a living artist”.

Away from the studio

But even an internationally renowned painter likes to do other things.

So while his relationship with the Red Arrows is well known and oft talked about, it’s worth mentioning that David gives significant support and commitment to the creativity of other people.

This isn’t always easy to do when one is self-funded. But both David and Carole believe in the importance of being part of the community. And doing something for that community.  

Thus they’re both member’s of PaRa, the local resident’s association and actively take part in the spring and autumn clean. Laudable for sure. Indeed, I myself often go Wombling when I go to the shops at Freshbrook. The litter is disgraceful. Time to bring back the Keep Britain Tidy campaign surely?!

Anyway, back to topic:

“Children from Churchfields school were hosted by Dave for a tour of his Old Town studio & a private view of this exhibition. They enjoyed spending time with the Red Arrows who we had arranged for them to meet. In 2013, we attended an Art Auction at Churchfields school , buying childrens artworks in support of their creativity .

Other children have also been involved in Dave’s work. 800 took part in the Big Draw, creating their own artworks based on his exhibition at the Museum. Their work was then displayed beneath the wings of a Mosquito.  

Who knew eh?

So there you have it.

HAD I known about David and his work he would most certainly have gone on my ‘Ten things to celebrate about Swindon’ list.

But now at last his work ia on Born again Swindonian, alongside all the other fantastic artist talent in this town. An adopted Son-of-Swindon for sure.

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