Thirty six years at one firm is a fantastic achievement, which I am sure brought with it many memorable adventures that would keep the ‘Robin Hood Costumed’; ‘Banjo flaunting’; ‘Armed with melodies o’ plenty’ illustrated BBC story teller from my childhood (…’I am a story teller and a story must be told’...) in business for the rest of his tree bound life.
But being asked if I could bring key moments from this illustrious career to life on one canvas, now there was a challenge! One I welcomed with open arms.
My first corporate commission (the painting of the London Eye for another PwC retiring partner’s in 2010) and the Movember Photography project, later that same year, allowed me to gain more artistic exposure across the PwC firm. It was through this exposure that I was approached by Liz Smith (Director), Dolores John (Senior Partner PA) & Chris Venner (Director) in the summer of 2011 (prior to my leaving the firm) about potentially producing a more elaborate piece for Mr Wright’s retirement. The concept was to create a canvas that would encapsulate as much of his time with the firm as possible.
The collective design process:
The initial seed was planted and after formal confirmation was received greenhousing sessions were arranged with the clients to gather initial information about the subject (as you can see from the attached project timeline above). This allowed me to start to visualise design options for the final canvas. Liz, Dolores & Chris were able to provide me with a lot of information about Philip’s career but I encouraged them to get someone to interview him under the premise of a partner exit article (as the artwork was a surprise gift).
In the meantime, during the ‘Nurturing’ phase of the project, I began to mock-up a selection of concept sketches and ideas (a few of which can be seen below) to present back to Liz, Dolores & Chris and to work with them to shape them further. Many people see the development of a collective vision as an impossible task, I disagree! Involving everyone in the process and shaping ideas together is a rewarding experience, allowing the final composition to contain input from everyone – the feeling of being involved, listened too and having your ideas acted up on is very powerful.
Liz & Dolores managed to arrange for an internal interview to be conducted with Mr Wright which coverd his life at the firm and what memories he would take with him into his retirement. As I mentioned the commission was a suprise gift and therefore the interview was conducted under the premise of an ‘exit article’.
The interview provided me with a plethora of detail that allowed me to shape the concept sketches further. After consideration we then chose a preferred composition; I produced a final mock-up (see above) & sought final feedback as this is essential in creating very strong bespoked piece of art! The final composition was agreed on the 21st December 2011.
The Final Composition:
Everything in the final design was arranged based on the information I received, with each component working with its surrounding elements. For example;
The final pieces of the jigsaw were provided by Philip’s wife Ziggy & Dolores in the form of numerous photographs of Philip and Pricewaterhouse black and white corporate head-shots of Anthony , Brian and Quentin. Dolores explained that Philip, Anthony and Brian were known as the ‘Three Amigos’ as the rampaged through the ranks of the firm and he mentioned them heart warmingly in his interview. Unfortunately, neither of them is still with us and they were both represented at the presentation dinner by their elegant wives. Quentin and Philip are also close friends who will be following in the footsteps of Philip’s son by embarking on the Digital Theatre initiative (as his son mentioned in his speech ... isn’t this usually the other way around!?).
I started to prepare the canvas and obtain the required materials over the Christmas period. Although, I committed to the task fully from the 2nd January, which left me 16 days to complete the work. Throughout these few weeks I was able to provide my clients with images showing progress and a platform to discuss any composition additions (e.g. the ‘no holiday’ reference).
Receiving the interview feedback so close to the Christmas period always meant that this was going to be a tight deadline to meet, especially, as I had to work around my new career at KPMG. This meant some late nights (including an all nighter on the 17th) and two very productive & long weekends. This was a fantastic experience!! Not being able to relax, as I felt I should be working on the commission, was a challenge but I loved every minute of it! I have always worked well under deadlines as it focuses my mind like nothing else! That said if the deadline was Christmas 2012 I would, due to my slight OCD nature probably be still working on it .
Finishing a commission is always amazing, and this was no exception. The feeling of accomplishment and succeeding in ‘hopefully’ producing something that will be treasure is amazing. The euphoria carried me through the final touches – compliments slip explaining how much effort Liz, Dolores & Chris had put in and how I was grateful to be involved; personalised stationary; attaching the wire to the back of the frame for hanging etc (see below).
I am very grateful to Liz & Dolores for inviting me to see the painting being presented by them at Philip’s retirement dinner at the Savile Club in Grosvenor Square. It was a great venue and a fantastic evening! It was full of Mr Wright’s close friends and colleagues who relished sharing in this special occasion. It was probably the best PwC networking event you could have ever wished for, but for me it came 6 months after leaving the firm :)
Liz & Dolores presented the painting at the end of the meal and I was able to grab a few photos to capture the moment. Thanks again to everyone involved in helping shape the commission, thanks to Liz & Dolores for inviting me to the event and to Philip for thanking me in his closing speech.
It was amazing to be part of and I hope the painting is treasured for the passion that went into it from people who Philip obviously had a great impact on during his time at PwC!
Edge ... over and out.......
PS – If anyone is interested in discussing potential commissions please contact through my site or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cathartic musings of a CRE8IV mind, living at the EDGE of chaos.