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GP Week : Issue 214
F1 >>> FEATUrE L TO R: Mark Dickens, World Champion Mario Andretti, Keith Sutton 23 GPWEEK.com // 23 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Just 32 men have captured the greatest prize in motorsport – the Formula 1 World Championship drivers’ title – since its inception in 1950. These super-talented heroes are household names among most true car enthusiasts, but especially among race fans – casual or diehard. Their feats of skill and bravery aboard some of the sport’s most iconic racing machines – think Alfa Romeo, Lotus, Ferrari, Brabham, Tyrrell, McLaren, Brabham and Williams – are legendary and much has been written and talked about their endeavours over the past 60-plus years. Now, however, a series of 24 unique and breathtaking pieces of art is being created to further celebrate the drivers’ achievements and highlight the global reverence for these motorsporting megastars. World Champions in Art is a unique collaboration between celebrated artist and Formula 1 enthusiast Mark Dickens and world-renowned motorsport photographic agency Sutton Images. Mark Dickens’ name will be known to F1 art followers. The London Central School of Art and Design graduate has been involved in several high- profile commissions over the past five years and this new project is a natural progression, as he explains. “My association with F1 started in 2009, with a commission from the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. I did 10 paintings for them to celebrate the venue’s arrival on the F1 calendar. Within them I incorporated hand- written poetry from the drivers in a bid to tease out their personalities. “Bernie Ecclestone saw them at a reception at the grand prix and then commissioned me to create a painting for each of the 19 grands prix from the 2011 season, with the brief to capture the essence of each race and the cultural diversity of the host city. It was very exciting to be able to really get under the skin of each race. I included the personal thoughts of people involved in the organisation of each event – from the chairmen of sponsoring companies, to city mayors and even prime ministers!” In a further coup for Dickens, a year later Ecclestone, who was delighted with the work, presented each of the 19 paintings to the relevant race promoter. “It was such a thrill,” admits Dickens. “And of course, I soon wanted another project to get my teeth into.” Which is where Keith Sutton comes in. “I got to know Keith through my brother-in-law Dick Bennetts of West Surrey Racing fame,” says Dickens. “Dick ran Ayrton Senna to the British Formula 3 title in 1983 and Keith was at that time Ayrton’s preferred snapper, with the Brazilian legend – who’d become a close friend of Keith’s for the next 10 years – relying on him to take pictures throughout that season and beyond.” Sutton Images is well-known in a motorsport industry that encompasses far more than just F1. Founded by Keith in 1980, its archive contains a vast number of pictures from the past 30-plus years of international and national racing, as well as all the key players, personalities, cars and races in F1. The Sutton archive gave Dickens huge scoop for capturing the right images of the 24 drivers – and adding his personal touch to their portrayal, with full approval from Keith. “I’m delighted for our images to be used in this way,” Sutton says. “Mark has been able to use some photos many people will never have seen before. When these are portrayed in Mark’s unique style I think they result in a beautiful tribute to these greats of F1.”