A museum is on a mission to collect images of an aircraft from World War II painted by a local artist.
The Sywell Aviation Museum has collected paintings of Wellington bombers made by artist, Frank J. Spencer. Already, the museum has in their hands eight of the paintings. Still, the museum wants more of the artist’s works on display.
The Northamptonshire Telegraph reports that the museum has started researching on the artist, Mr. Spencer, to get clues about his marvelous works of art and to track down where the rest of his paintings are now.
“We have been eking out little bits of information about him as the years go by. All we have gleaned is what the people who donated the paintings have told us,” Mr. Ben Brown, secretary of the museum said.
The museum has pieced together information on the artist, Mr. Spencer. So far, the museum knows that Spencer was a teenager in 1940s and was believed to have worked at Brooklands Aviation, based at Sywell. The artist was also said to have survived the war.
The paintings created by Mr. Spencer are all of a Wellington bomber. Officials strongly believe that each painting is of a different Wellington bomber because the each show a different serial number.
Mr. Brown claims that the paintings are of historical value. He explains that the art works record the series of aircraft at Sywell which were used during the war. The base at Sywell was known as a repair depot for Wellington bombers.
“They all came through Sywell – he painted what he saw. We have got eight of them (paintings). We suddenly thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do a display on him?’,” Mr. Brown added.
“Sometimes they turn up at car boot sales because people don’t know what they are about. For us, because they were definitely from Sywell during the war, they are great,” he further said.
During the war, oil paint was rarely in circulation. Mr. Spencer made use of what was readily available at his disposal to create the master pieces. He used aircraft dope, a material used on plane surfaces, to paint the bombers and usually the Wellington’s plywood flooring to serve as canvass.
The war-inspired paintings were painted with a touch of style distinct to the 1930s and as if by an amateur.
“Some of them were then given away by Mr. Spencer as wedding presents,” Mr. Brown explained.
One of Mr. Spencer’s paintings showed a Wellington bomber which was featured in the propaganda film Target for Tonight in 1941. The bomber came to be known as F for Freddie.
Target for Tonight was a documentary film that claimed to have recorded an actual attack on the bomber.
The bomber, F for Freddie, was displayed in Northampton during a fund-raising event in line with the War Weapons Week urging the public to donate funds for weaponry and equipment including aircraft, warships and tanks in 1943.
“He [Mr. Spencer] had gone down there and painted a copy of it,” Mr. Brown said.
Mr. Brown urges any one with copies of Frank Spencer’s painting of a Wellington bomber to have their collection as one of the displays of the museum on loan.
Meanwhile, another artist, Keith Hill, displayed his works of art in an exhibition this month. The artist is known for making paintings with themes on aviation, military and railways.
The artist is also known to be a friend of Bert Ross. Mr. Ross has been on more than a hundred missions flying in a B24 Liberator from 1943 to 1945.
“I met him at a 1940s weekend and a couple of years later he moved to Rushden,” Mr Hill said. “I contacted him and it was such a fantastic story I thought it needed painting.”
Mr. Ross also had the experience of flying Anthony Eden who later on in 1955 became Prime Minister. He claims that he was more focused on flying and the weather than on his VIP passenger.
Mr Hill’s nine-day exhibition at Rushden Hall Park finished this week.