David Bent works acquired for Swindon art collection

David Bent works acquired for Swindon art collection

7th July 2017


I do like share a bit of good news on this blog listeners. And this is certainly that.

Now if it were left to me I’d have a place in Swindon’s art collection for dozens of Swindon artists. But until that’s possible it’s great that, in addition to works by the fabulous Ken White, both Creative Wiltshire and Swindon Borough Council have acquired works by David Bent. Because they both absolutely deserve to be there. So hurrah!

david bent - swindon museum and art gallery


David Bent: https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/david-bent/

Ken White: https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/ken-white/

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery: http://swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MuseumandArtGallery/

 Swindon museum and art gallery

Swindon Borough Council are delighted to announce their most recent acquisitions to the Collections via the Creative Wiltshire project

‘These new works include a stunning landscape painting and prints by local artist David Bent.  The painting, Beach House West of Looe, from David’s Landscape Geometry series will go on display from 19 July until 18 November as part of ‘The Lie of the Land exhibition’, which explores Modern British Landscapes from the Swindon Collection.  This exhibition will also feature artists such as Richard Long, Mary Fedden, Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell.

The Museum and Art Gallery has also obtained two prints from his innovative Aerobot photo collage collection which were first exhibited at the nearby Royal International Air Tattoo. David is credited as leading a new movement in modern aviation art. 

This work has been purchased by the Creative Wiltshire project, which aims to acquire works by creative people across Swindon and Wiltshire. 

The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and also recently secured a work by Swindon artist Ken White for the Swindon Collection as well as ceramics by Sasha Wardell, Trevor Chaplin and Patricia Volk, paintings by David Rolt, and prints by Howard Hodgkin and Joe Tilson. 

Creative Wiltshire has also purchased David’s work (including books, a box set of Movement 2000 and prints) for the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre and said “We are delighted that Swindon has acquired these wonderful works by David Bent. David is a talented and popular artist who has such a strong connection with Swindon and the surrounding area. It has been a pleasure working with David to select the works for Swindon and for the History centre and we feel they provide a fitting tribute to David’s long career. We hope visitors will enjoy discovering his work in forthcoming exhibitions.”

David said: “I am proud to have my work represented in the prestigious Swindon collection, sitting alongside works created by a number of great artists that have inspired and influenced me.  I am equally pleased that the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre have chosen to acquire a number of pieces.” 

For further information please contact Nicki Western, Marketing Manager, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, 01793 466560 or emailnwestern@swindon.gov.uk


David Bent
David Bent lives and works in Swindon.  His long career has taken him all over the world. Born in Dover, he has travelled extensively. His art shows the influences of the places he has visited, as well as his fascination with current affairs. In recent years he has been strongly associated with the Red Arrows, who have inspired a number of paintings within his Art of Flight series. David was recently awarded the rare distinction of Honorary Companionship of the Royal Aeronautical Society in tribute to his work. He is the first artist in 30 years to be awarded this. 

David Bent Studio: http://davidbentstudio.com

Aerobots images by David Bent

Disco and Diva Bot

There’s a nice blog here about David’s aerobots by Ray Kurzweils now Google technical director.

Spirited machines: The robots of acclaimed high tech artist David Bent  – Here’s an extract:

‘ …. 

Question: The Aerobots series is a departure for you. What was your inspiration?

David Bent: I am inspired and led to a certain extent by my general interest in science and technology, but nature and the human condition are also big influences on me. As a practicing artist, I always aim to infuse my work with the power of personal observation, skill and insights.
For me the relationship between Art, Science and Mathematics can be described as a drawn circle with a small gap at the end. Art is at one end of the open circle and science at the other. They are very close if you are prepared to jump the gap, if not you have to travel all the way around the circle and they become a long way apart. I like to jump the gap.’

Creative Wiltshire
Creative Wiltshire is a five year project which started in 2015 and aims to acquire work by creative people from Swindon and Wiltshire to fill significant gaps in the collections across Wiltshire.

Wiltshire Local Studies, based at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham, received £178,000 HLF Collecting Cultures grant towards the five year project totalling £213,550 and materials are being acquired by accredited museums in the county of Wiltshire and Borough of Swindon, including Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and the Salisbury Museum.

Reaching for the skies with David Bent

Reaching for the skies with David Bent

31st May 2017


David Bent exhibits at RAF Club

When I first started this blog I was familiar with the work of Ken White.  As time went by, and due entirely to Katie Hopkins (it’s a long story which I’m prepared to dine out on. 😉 ) I came across David Bent.

Since then I’ve got to know Caroline Day, Susan Carr and Terry Humphries, the lovely people at Artiste and the Post Modern and Tim Carroll. Most of them have been represented on this blog with the exception of Tim Carroll. And that situation must be adressed soon.

This post though features David Bent. Because I wanted to mention that he’s exhibiting at London’s RAF Club during July and August 2017.

I must stress that this exhibition is hosted by the RAF club for their members. But don’t despair! Many of the pieces can be seen in Swindon – the Swindon Open Studios event is a perfect opportunity.  Indeed a number of the originals can be seen at Open Studios – something that David has taken part in since 2002.

Aside from the that private visits can be arranged to David’s studio or there’s his website: http://davidbentstudio.com

David’s had lots of local exhibitions including: The Great Western Hospital , Open Studios, Radnor Street Chapel and Artsite. Not that this is the first time he’s gone beyond the SBC boundary! 😉

Read Information on the exhibition by following the link.

Read more about David Bent by exploring this link: https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/david-bent/

The painting shown here is ‘Timeless’.  

This painting was also included in the exhibition at the RAF Museum , London 2012 – 2013 that David and his lovely wife took 60 kids from Churchfields Academy too … & introduced them to the Red Arrows. Lucky them!

Art of Flight RAF club - David Bent exhibits at RAF club

Trio of David's paintings


Mural Men

Mural Men

20 January 2017


The Mural Men: Ken White and David Bent

I am the mural man, I come from far away and I can paint – yes I can paint. What can you paint – I can paint murals!

‘It’s a small world’. A cliché? Yup. But true. And listeners it doesn’t get much truer than this!

In the early days of this blog I devised a list of things to celebrate about Swindon. And on that list I placed Ken White. A son of Swindon, Ken has made his mark on the world literally and figuratively with his artistic talent.

Famed for his murals and for being the creator of Virgin airline’s red lady emblem Ken has far more bristles to his brush than that. You can find out a bit more about Ken here: https://swindonian.me/2013/07/13/ten-things-i-like-about-swindon-no-5-ken-white-swindons-mural-man/

Read more about Ken’s murals here: http://www.kenwhitemurals.co.uk/home/

Now, at the time I was writing about Ken I knew nothing of the existence in Swindon of David  Bent. Had I done I would certainly have included him and his art on my celebratory list.

David is a Born again Swindonian like me – funnily enough I think we’ve both been here around the same number of years.

David too is a talented and renowned artist being particularly well-known for his aviation art. Though he too, like Ken, has many brushes in many paint pots. Here’s a link to a couple of the posts on this blog concerning David: https://swindonian.me/2014/09/24/david-bent-choosing-swindon/ and: https://swindonian.me/2015/11/02/movement-2000-art-collection-seeks-home/

I’m fortunate in recent years to have got to know David, and his fabulous wife Carole, very well. And it was on a recent visit to David’s studio – Swindon Open Studios maybe? – anyway – that I learned that he too had been a mural painter back in the day.

In a wonderful bit of symmetry that life, the universe and everything (42) is full of it turns out there was a time when, unknown and unbeknownst to each other, they were painting murals in London with only a street or two between them.  David was working as a youth worker specialising in art project work and Ken was working on one of his famous commissions for Richard Branson – he of the Virgin empire. As Carole herself said, it’s not impossible that they drank in the same pubs.

And now here they are, living in the same town, still painting. Though no muriels sadly. That said – if anyone is offering I’ve got a garden wall crying out

The image below shows an article in a 1979 issue of The Telegraph featuring both David Bent and Ken White painting their murals in London at the same time. Like I said – it’s a small world. Albeit with big murals. And pots and pots of pots of paint.

David Bent & Ken White The Telegraph 1979 - The Mural Men Ken White and David Bent

David Bent & Ken White The Telegraph 1979

See more of David’s murals – and explore his other art work here: http://davidbentstudio.com/gallery/retrospective/murals.html

So two mural men, two world-class artists in one town. One born and bred here. One choosing here. Either way, what’s not to celebrate about that?




Original Art Print Salutes C-130 Operations, Partnership

Original Art Print Salutes C-130 Operations, Partnership

12th December 2016


Original Art Print Salutes C-130 Operations, Partnership

Okay listeners – here’s a link to a press release from Lockheed Martin: http://www.lockheedmartin.co.uk/us/news/features/2016/GivingProps.html –

Now before you start to wonder why I’m putting this on a Swindon-Centric blog there’s a good reason: David Bent – a Swindon resident for some 20 year or so now. Ergo – like me – a Born again Swindonian.

Famed aviation artist David Bent stands in front of a C-130 Hercules at the 2016 Royal International Air Tattoo.

Famed aviation artist David Bent stands in front of a C-130 Hercules at the 2016 Royal International Air Tattoo.

Well known, nay renowned, for his aviation art, David has produced an art work in celebration of a half-century partnership between RAF Marshal Aerospace & Defence and Lockheed Martin – the manufacturer of the Hercules C130.

Said David about his artwork: “I hope people are pleased and uplifted by this artwork, and that it is a positive reflection of all the hard work and ingenuity put into [the C-130] through 50 years of collaboration,” Bent said. “Pieces of art have their own lives and I hope this one has a long and happy one.”

David Bent Studio: http://davidbentstudio.com

David is a tremendously talented artist, somewhat under-celebrated in this town – and that’s my own personal opinion.

Though not by this particular blogger and certainly not by others beyond Swindon. As you’ll see if you read this extract from the above mentioned press release – though the entire thing is an interesting read.

Not only am I of the belief that David should be celebrated because of his artistic talent but because of his many contributions to the town’s artistic landscape. But the listeners would be another post entirely. So to the point of this one:

One Artist, Many Talents 
It’s often said that the C-130 Hercules is one aircraft that supports many missions. That sentiment can also be applied to Bent, who is truly one artist with many talents. 

Bent’s portfolio is wide ranging from “aerobots” to landscape geometry. He is creatively fluent across many different media and approaches, including painting, photography, graphic arts and printmaking. 

His influences are also wide-ranging, including American pop artists like Andy Warhol and fellow Englishmen including Paul Nash and David Hockey — largely regarded as leaders in their genres.

A glimpse into Bent’s significant collection of work reflects his many interests and influences, both in muses and mediums. Aerospace, however, remains a dominant and constant theme.

His interest in aviation is linked directly to his father, an aircraft enthusiast, expert aeromodeller and, in his early days, a junior technician supporting Sir Alan Cobham’s “Flying Circus” aviation displays that were part of the UK skies in the 1930s.

“He just knew every airplane that flew the skies,” Bent said. “By the time my brother and I were 5-years-old, we were taught to observe aircraft and we knew almost every aircraft that flew the skies.”

His brother retired as a RAF wing commander, while Bent himself went off to art college. But, his love of aviation was never lost.

“[Aviation] is partly an academic interest for me,” he said. “But, I genuinely love the whole industry and much about it. It’s cutting edge, forward looking, high tech. It’s a great subject that I’m very happy to promote to younger artists as a relevant subject.”

An Aviation Icon On An Aviation Icon 
Bent is viewed as one of the world’s leading modern aviation artists and beloved by the UK aviation community.

His awards and recognitions are expansive, ranging from a year long solo exhibition at the Royal Air Force Museum, London, to being awarded “Honorary Companion of the Royal Aeronautical Society,” which is the organization’s highest distinction to those who have made a significant contribution to the aerospace profession. He’s been referred to the artist most “closely associated with the Red Arrows,” the RAF’s Aerobatic team. Bent is also closely connected to RIAT, through his exhibitions at the event and the commemorative prints created for UK events.

His works include almost every kind of aircraft to grace the skies. Stealth 5th Generation fighters. Vulcans. Tornados. Drones. Harriers. Spitfires. The Concorde. The Red Arrows. And the Hercules.

The C-130 has surfaced in several of Bent’s pieces and collections, starting with a piece entitled, “Spinning Hercules.”

“I was working on my first aviation collection when I took the straight on photograph of the Hercules,” he said. “By doubling it, it became a very striking image.”

The Hercules also features within Bent’s “Tribute” and “Transport Command” collections.

So, what has drawn him to immortalize the C-130 in his art? Is it the Herc’s rugged good looks? Purposeful design? Versatility? Or, the place that it holds in many hearts? All of those things, actually, according to the artist.

“The Hercules, of course, is an iconic aircraft,” Bent said. “In the case of the Hercules, form follows function. Like the Bauhaus mantra. Obviously aircraft have special purposes and the Hercules proves that it gets the job done. It’s got character, lots of variants and many different uses.”

While Bent has spent time inside a few Hercs to learn more about that aforementioned function and form, he’s also spent many days with it flying overhead. His home and studio are located between two RAF bases: RAF Brize Norton (where the RAF’s C-130 fleet is currently operated out of) and RAF Lynham (where the RAF’s C-130 was previously operated out of prior to its closing in 2012).

“[The Hercules] has been a dependable mainstay of the RAF transport command for many years,” Bent said. “It’s certainly well-loved in this country — and around the world.”

*Hon CRAeS is Honorary Companion of the Royal Aeronautical Society. David Bent is the first artist in 30 years to be awarded this title. 

As the above extract explains, David is far from being a one-trick pony. See also:

David Bent Chooses Swindon

And I surely can’t be the only person in Swindon – a town with a charity like the Harbour Project, a town with City of Sanctuary status, that thinks these art works by David ought to be obtained for the museum and art gallery? I mean – it’s a no brainer  surely?



Aviation Exhibition Takes Flight

Aviation Exhibition Takes Flight

5th November 2016


Sky High: Exhibition of David Bent’s work at St George’s, Bristol

St George's Bristol Situated in the crypt at St George’s is an exhibition of David Bent’s work. The building is described by a director of the British Museum as ‘a building which we think of as a twin sister’ – both were designed by the same architect, Sir Robert Smirke. Presumably he wasn’t having a laugh…

‘A fantastic exhibition of aviation inspired art opens at St George’s in Bristol in November, as part of the venue’s year-long ‘Art of Flight’ series.

Acclaimed artist David Bent Hon CRAeS has taken a life-long passion for flight and transferred it to canvas and to print , creating works of art that are thrilling, enthralling and utterly memorable.

Credited with leading a new movement in modern aviation art, David’s work is collected and supported around the world. Recent commissions include Universities and major aerospace companies. He has recently been made an ‘Honorary Companion’ by the Royal Aeronautical Society, its distinction reserved for those whose professional achievements are not exclusively in aerospace but who have made a substantial contribution to the profession. Awarded to David Bent in recognition of his exceptional contribution in transforming aviation art with iconic paintings , bringing aviation, technology and art together to a completely new audience.

David is also the artist most closely associated with the Red Arrows, depicting their creative and world leading displays with an impressive collection of paintings and photo collages. He has also created a bold series of work paying tribute to British aircraft manufacturers. His Bristol Tribute features within this new exhibition at St George’s.

Visitors to the venue, which is located on Great George Street (just off Park Street), will have the opportunity to see a collection of David’s artworks in the venue’s Doric Room before and during concerts throughout November and early December.

The ‘Art of Flight’ series, which began earlier this year, is a celebration of music inspired by flight and Bristol’s aviation story. A weekend of concerts and events forms something of a grand finale from 25-27 November, presented as part of the Bristol800 weekender programme.

New music commissions by composers Graham Fitkin (‘Wing’) and Liz Lane (‘Innovation 216’) receive their world premiere performances on Friday 25 and Sunday 27 November respectively.

Also on Sunday 27 November the venue will be open throughout the day for a ‘Family Flight Day’, featuring hands-on exhibits from At-Bristol, space food and the chance to create and test paper airplanes. 

Visitors to the family day will also have the opportunity to ‘Meet the Artist’, as David will be in attendance from 1pm and happy to discuss his work and answer questions.’

David Bent – The Art of Flight, will be at St George’s from Wednesday 3 November until Monday 5 December.

Visit: stgeorgesbristol.co.uk for concert listings and venue opening hours.

See also about David Bent:

David Bent – choosing Swindon

David Bent Movement 2000

David Bent Refreshed



Swindon: not a crap town

Swindon: not a crap town

17th September 2016


Swindon: it’s not as bad as you think

It’s funny how ‘things’ happen really. How at-first-glance-unrelated incidents become related…

Last night I had a lodger from Air BnB – just for the night – visiting Swindon for the first time. He was a very charming Syrian chap who’s been in England for 10 years or so. He lives and works in London as a university lecturer and was full of nothing but affection and gratitude to our country for the opportunities it’s afforded him. I say this as background but I do think it’s kinda relevant.

Because he then went on to say that, what little bit of Swindon he’d seen, he’d really liked. He commented that everyone he spoke to was lovely – not like in London. He liked where I lived (West Swindon), he went to Lydiard Park and loved that. He even thought the West Swindon Centre was nice. Which leads me to the next connection…

Today I went to the autumn fayre at the gorgeous Christ Church where I happened to pick up a copy of  Swindon Heritage’s autumn magazine.  On getting home I picked up the magazine and it fell open on an article called ‘Meet the man with the Plan’ – an interview between Graham Carter and Hadrian Ellery-Van Dekker – a name on a par in the awesomeness stakes with Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Which is probably rather fitting if you think about it.

Anyroad up – Mr HVD ( I thought about writing Mr VD and swiftly thought again! #awks) is the director of the new museum and art gallery. In the course of the article Mr HVD is quoted as saying:

‘There is a great cultural scene here in Swindon, but I have noticed a tendency in people who live here to put the boot in when they talk about the town. It seems to be a default setting. People categorise by what it isn’t rather than what it is. They tell me it isn’t Bath, and it isn’t Oxford and it isn’t Reading. But it has a hell of a lot to recommend it, so I think it is time to start thinking about what it has got going for it, not what they think is missing.’

And oh boy is he right!. They do. And I’m so, so tired of it. So I say: Thank. Bloody. God.

Mr HVD can I shake you by the hand? Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s EXACTLY what I’ve been trying to say for the past 3 LONG years of bashing away at this bloody blog. So it’s VERY nice to hear it from someone else. Vindication is mine!

Swindon is NOT a shit pit. Swindon is NOT a crap town. And I should know – I come from one that actually made it into the Crap Towns book. There’s been two versions of that book (see image) and Swindon features in neither. Which is no surprise to me.

Crap towns book


So where does all of this connect to last night’s lodger? Well:

  1. Sometimes things are relative. I love Swindon because I come from a place with nothing. And when I say ‘nothing’ I mean nothing. Swindon has Barbury Castle and Liddington Hill – we had slag heaps. And emhysema. And there’s probably an element of that with my lodger. Relativity – not emphysema. But also…
  2. … if, as he did, you approach Swindon with an open heart and an open mind she will ‘reveal’ herself to you.  A bit like Brigadoon. (;look it up) And it’s clear that Mr HVD is well aware of Swindon’s charms.

A man of intelligence and insight evidently! And I wish him every success despite my misgivings about the location of the new art gallery/museum.

Location, Location, Location

Now there’s much contention about the location of the new art gallery/museum combo. I won’t lie – I’m not convinced about where it’s intended to be – but I AM convinced that this guy has the vision that Swindon needs. And that matters above all.

In the aforementioned article Mr HVD has this to say on the matter: ‘This is another thing I’ve noticed about Swindon. People think it has to be either/or.  They think it’s the town centre or the ‘Mechanics’. But Swindon is big enough to have ‘and’ and not either/or.’ And he’s not wrong – it is. 

All of which segues nicely into another point I’d like to make while I’ve got your virtual ear.

AT LAST the museum and art gallery has acquired a painting by Swindon artist Ken White. Get the flipping bunting out because it’s not before time.  Ken is a son of Swindon – both literally and figuratively and still is. He absolutely, no question about it, deserves his place there.


See also Creative Wiltshire: https://creativewiltshire.com/2016/09/07/ken-white-swindon-artist/

But there’s another who I think deserves to be there too. Well – if it were left to me I’d have every Swindon artist in the place but that wouldn’t be altogether realistic – if not noble.

But seriously, if Swindon is big enough for the Mechanics’ Institute and the new museum/art gallery then isn’t the latter also big enough for Ken White AND David Bent? 

It doesn’t have to be either/or!

As someone that chose Swindon, as someone that involves himself in countless community activities and Open Studios. As someone that’s lived here for a good 20 years or so shouldn’t he be there too?

And apart from any of that he can paint quite well!  😉 Oh – and he has a good line in an anecdote it has to be said. And if that were a criterion for entry into museums he’d be in Tate Britain at the very least.

#justsaying    Here endeth the lesson.


NB: When news of Swindon’s proposed new gallery/museum hit the media they saw fit to turn what should have been a positive news story into yet more Swindon bashing. I wrote a response to that at the time and this is it:  https://swindonian.me/2015/08/19/the-ugliest-town-in-england-really/

To read the full article: ‘Meet the man with the Plan’ buy the autumn edition of Swindon Heritage magazine. 

Swindon Heritage magazine: http://www.swindonheritage.com

The Mechanics’ Institute Trust: https://mechanics-trust.org.uk

David Bent Studio: http://davidbentstudio.com

Ken White: http://www.kenwhitemurals.co.uk

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery: http://swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk


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