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GP Week : Issue 190
F1 >>> FEATUrE Michael Turner is one of today's best-known and highly regarded motorsport artists. His racing scenes are instantly recognisable simply by the style in which they are painted with each scene depicting not only the excitement and dynamism of the race, but also the character of the drivers themselves. To own a Michael Turner painting is to own part of the passion that created it. But where did this passion start and how did it turn into his profession? Michael Turner was born in Harrow, Middlesex, in 1934. One of his earliest memories is that of being pushed in his pram by his mother at the age of three and running a toy car through the water on the rain cover. Up until the age of 5 when he had to start his education at primary school, playing with toy cars had given Michael many hours of enjoyment and he would immerse himself into the miniature car world of road signs and pavements of printed card strips he had created on the carpet at his home. By the age of 6, with the declaration of the Second World War, Michael’s attentions turned to planes and tanks and his interest in cars took a back seat. However, this passion for motorsport was to be reignited whilst on holiday at the age of 14. WWII had taken its toll on the people of Britain and luxuries such as holidays had not been possible, but in 1947, some two-years after VJ day, Michael and his family were able to get away for a proper holiday to stay with some relatives of his Mother on the Isle of Wight. It was towards the end of their last week, that the family were looking for something different to do and by chance a poster was spotted advertising the British Empire Trophy car races which were being held on the island as one of the first post-war revivals of motorsport. Michael went along, with his cousin, to the practice that evening and watched in awe at each passing driver wearing a flat cap and goggles trying to keep control of their car whilst they slid around the tight bends, and the delicious smell of Castrol ‘R’ hanging in the air as the driver regained direction and sped away. From that moment, Michael was devoted to the speed and spectacle of motor sport and to spending a lifetime successfully recreating and recording his visual impressions of the sights and sounds of motor racing on paper and canvas. Michael was determined to learn as much about motorsport, the cars and the drivers as he could and subscribed to the magazines of the time – Motor, Autocar and Motorsport – where he could read about and see pictures of the growing number of events that were starting up again in post-war Britain and Europe. He persuaded his long-suffering parents to take him to events such as Silverstone, Goodwood, Brands Hatch, road races in Jersey and of course, a return to the Isle of Man where he could stand as close as possible to the action, frantically scribbling with his pencil, trying to capture on paper everything his eye could see and taking photographs on his Purma-Special camera for reference for his more detailed paintings. Michael continued to draw and paint through his school life and in 1951, after attaining 8 passes in his School Certificate Examinations, he enrolled at the Heatherley School of Fine Arts. He worked hard at getting to know people who were connected to motor racing and through various contacts he made, saw his paintings hung at The Steering Wheel Club which was the meeting place for anyone connected with the sport when in London. His first real break came from a commission by the British Automobile Racing Club, who wanted Michael to provide an illustration from their forthcoming Whit Monday race meeting at Goodwood for publication in the 24 GPWEEK.com // 24 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: