We are delighted to showcase the latest work by Gerry Wadsworth. Gerry has produced a triptych of Bond paintings, that will be sure to cement his legacy. Here Gerry talks about his process and inspirations.
‘The idea of a triptych came to me as I was completing “A Deadly Career.” I have always appreciated Japanese woodblock prints and have owned a few over the years, and I realized that by extending the Queen Anne table on both sides, it would give me added room to communicate the concept of a contemporary Bond. I could add in those objects that represented Bond as a man of our past and of our future, and would allow me to approach each painting as a collection of objects that Bond would have at hand as reminders of his time served in MI6. I was especially enthused about painting “The Fighting Temeraire” by Turner. It would be a first for me to have a painting within a painting – and Turner’s loose impressionistic style would a be a nice contrast to my usual tightly rendered imagery. Since I was fearful of mucking it up and ruining a painting right off the start, I decided to do the ship first. If successful, I would then continue with the rest of the painting…’
Commander James Bond KCMG, DSO, OBE, RNVR, (Ret.)
A Deadly Career
‘For “A Deadly Career” I chose a variety of iconic and lesser known images from Flemings’ novels and short stories that would support the narrative of the painting. I wanted to contemporize James Bond, which would allow us to envision him as a covert – albeit retired – member of MI6.
The selection of images highlight the span of his career from his earliest assignments to his current status – alive and well, and still living in his flat off the King’s Road. This painting was commissioned by the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, and is temporarily displayed in their Executive & VIP Board Room.’
‘For “Official Secrets” I was motivated by the Obit in The Times (of London) that appears at the end of You Only Live Twice, written by M about the presumed death of Bond at the hands of Blofeld (Dr. Shatterhand) and Irma Bunt. As my narrative describes, M recounts Bond’s early history as a youth, his time (very scandalous and short) at Eton, and his subsequent days at Fettes College.
The self-irony of Fleming is evident when M writes about the popularization of Bond’s exploits by a personal friend and how these stories were almost in violation of the Official Secrets Act – hence the name of the painting. I have continued the contemporization of Bond with his collection of first edition Fleming novels that Bond would have undoubtedly acquired, the recent Bond continuation novel by Anthony Horowitz -Trigger Mortis, a bookmark from Artistic Licence Renewed and other elements that Bond has on hand in his flat.’
To continue theme of the contemporary nature of Official Secrets, I followed clues from The Times Obit, added objects that Bond might have collected, as well as those mentioned in numerous novels – most of which need little explanation, ubiquitous as they are. Hence the Haig & Haig, Ben Hogan golf clubs, the Calamity Jane putter, Leica M3 camera, and the Lugar pistol, to mention a few. Some exceptions do occur. Blofeld’s samurai sword, for example, has the SPECTRE mon at the top of the handle. Unspecified “protection” was mentioned in The Spy Who Loved Me, so it was either Forex or Trojan condoms…I liked the colors of the Trojans best. The room key given to Bond in Risico was from the actual Hotel (Albergo) Danieli. Readers will remember the two cards Solitaire held face to face to show Bond she was on his side – so a portrait of her was required. The Chopping Fly is always my last image to add, so it appears on the edge of the shelf.
Man O’ War
‘For “Man O’ War” I have made certain presumptions and taken considerable artistic licence with the objects therein – and have conflated some imagery that “Bond might have collected” along with those known known’s from Fleming’s literary oeuvre.
Following the theme of bringing Bond into our times, I added the Love Knot necklace by Sophie Harley and worn by Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, and the J.M.W. Turner painting, “The Fighting Temeraire” that appeared in the film “Skyfall” – as an ironic visual reminder of Bond and his retirement from MI6. But rather than being “ignominiously hauled away to the scrap yard” like an old war-horse, Bond is still a lethal weapon to be reckoned with by his enemies.’
The question I always ask myself is “what should I include in this painting?” For Man O’ War, it was no different. Bond is retired, so I needed images to convey that idea – but with a twist. Bond may have officially ended his career, but when the application of deadly force is needed, the tools had to be at hand. These include his Walther PPK, a 38 Special in the Berns-Martin triple draw holster, a Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife, and a relic from Capt. Morgan’s treasure trove – the Tower pistol. Rounding out the selection of objects is a Russian snipers medal, to remind him of Trigger in The Living Daylights, a squeeze bulb pistol to dispense cyanide from Property of a Lady, an English Sabre given to him by M, and the note by Baron Samedi’s minions about Felix Leiter in Live and Let Die. They are, for the most part, not-so-subtle reminders of Bond’s Licence to Kill.
The Last voyage of an Old War Hero:
Q: It always makes me feel a little melancholy. Grand old war ship, being ignominiously hauled away to scrap… The inevitability of time, don’t you think? What do you see?
Bond: A bloody big ship.