Inspired by the Swindon Works
Ken White paintings on show at STEAM museum
Ken White at the STEAM museum
The STEAM museum gives everyone the chance to experience the sights and sounds of the former GWR Works at Swindon - famous as the place where many of the best steam locomotives in the world were built.
And now two original paintings stand in pride of place above the artefacts and displays - both created by renowned Swindon artist Ken White.
A man who spent his early years at the Works and who has clearly drawn inspiration from his GWR past.
‘Lunch Time’ depicts a group of GWR workers gathered round a brazier, making their toast at lunchtime, while ‘Signwriters’ shows workers painting the GWR lettering onto coal wagons - a classic scene from the Swindon Carriage and Wagon Works.
"I spent 4 years at the Works," Ken told SwindonWeb, as we spent an hour walking round STEAM and talking about his paintings, now on permanent exhibition.
"They were good times, but hard work. Especially my first job as a hot rivetter.
"I gave that up because of the burns on my legs. And that I wanted to be an artist.
"My workmates told me to apply for a position as a signwriter, and I never looked back from then."
White, famous for then going on to design the Virgin Atlantic logo for Richard Branson (see link below) and for his distinctive Swindon murals - describing his art as a personal attempt to document his working life in the GWR during the early 60s; the atmosphere, the noise, the smells - and, most importantly, the people.
"Like wee Georgie Bennet, the signwriter (far left in the picture above)," added White.
"Now I do remember him. Just one of the larger-than-life characters who really made the Works, for me, such an interesting place to work.
"My father worked here, my brother, my uncles and my grandfather (for over 56 years) and a lot of good friends.
"It was definitely the people I remember more than anything else. And I hope my paintings show that."
Back in the studio:
Ken is now preparing new work for an exhibition at the Arts Centre in February 2009
More information on the Swindon STEAM musuem is available via the link below.