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With Flying Colours
With Flying Colours

With Flying Colours

Wednesday, 24th May 2017

British artist Jeremy Houghton’s career trajectory is as gracefully ascending as the flamingos in flight of his paintings. With artistic residencies at Windsor Castle, Highgrove and Goodwood behind him – and a current commission as the official artist for Ben Ainslie Racing - Jeremy’s horizons couldn’t be broader.

As an Official Olympic Artist for London 2012, Jeremy was able to immerse himself in the business of the athletes. ‘At the Games, spectators might see a five minute race to the finish line, whereas I saw the blood, sweat and tears that go into creating an Olympic person - the reality of their day-to-day lives and the training,’ says Jeremy, ‘It’s an interesting narrative, and sport is a global religion; by painting pictures that have a captive audience, I’ve got a match.’

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

The royal homes of Windsor Castle and Highgrove, and Lord March’s estate at Goodwood, are iconic British establishments steeped in history. During his several months as Artist-in-Residence at each property, Jeremy would observe from the shadows, sketching and photographing before taking those visual notes into the studio. ‘I want to find the reality behind the perception, so I try to find a theme with each residency. At Windsor Castle, I wanted to see the Queen as Mrs Windsor – beyond the barriers and protocol. The Queen still rides every day – the stables are the heartbeat of the place – so that became the essence of the narrative.’

THE ARTISTIC APPROACH

Jeremy chooses to eliminate detail and reduce colour in order to focus on the essence of movement and speed – a technique that works particularly well in sport and flight. His flamingo paintings – one of which Chris Cecil-Wright has hanging in his home in Keyhaven – capture the spontaneity of birds taking wing. It was these aerodynamics that caught the attention of the team at Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing and secured Jeremy’s post as Artist-in-Residence on the BAR journey to the America’s Cup in 2017. ‘Those boats don’t just sail, they fly,’ explains Jeremy, ‘so because of my flamingos, I got the gig.’

BRING THE CUP HOME

The artist grew up sailing in the UK and was especially drawn to the sport during his work for the 2012 Olympics. When Sir Ben Ainslie CBE announced he was launching a bid to win back the trophy for Britain – where the competition began in 1851 – Jeremy immediately put himself forward to document it. Now part of the BAR journey, Jeremy spends time on the Solent with the team and travels to their races, most recently on the Hudson River in New York.

In an effort to unravel the intricacies of the challenge and depict their intense motivation, Jeremy finds himself digitally photographing the sailing first, often from hairraising vantage points, ‘Out at sea we’re doing 45 knots and I’m holding on for dear life,’ Jeremy says, ‘It would be impossible to do a Turner and strap myself to the mast!’

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