Ben Mosley’s exclusive artwork celebrates One Year to Go until Tokyo 2020

Ben Mosley, an official artist for Team GB for Tokyo 2020, has created special prints of GB rowers and they are now available to buy at the British Rowing shop

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Back in March as the UK went into lockdown, leading artist Ben Mosley was set to create his signature paintings of the GB rowers at the Olympic Trials. But, because of the pandemic, Ben ended up creating his striking artwork from videos instead.

Ben is pictured above with his painting, Rowing for Victory, which depicts Rory Gibbs and Matt Rossiter battling it out with Moe Sbihi and Ollie Wynne Griffith in the men’s pairs A final.

Prints of this painting are now available to buy from the British Rowing shop, including a limited-edition signed print.

Bursting with dynamism and power, Ben’s trademark style reflects the brutal physical demands of competing in sport.

Not one to shy away from pressure himself, he also paints artwork ‘live’ and is one of Britain’s leading live artists. Over the last 10 years, he’s raised a staggering £750,000 for charities by painting live commissions.

His work is extremely popular and includes commissions from Wembley Stadium, Manchester United, McDonalds and The London Olympics, amongst many others.

We caught up with Ben to find out more.

How did you first get involved with rowing?

Ben: “In 2012 I was at the Olympics and I went down to the Olympic Stadium and produced a lot of live paintings. I did a huge mural showing the athletes coming from the crowd to convey the special Olympic spirit.

“I did a painting of the men’s four – Andrew Triggs Hodge, Tom James, Pete Reed and Alex Gregory. I finished this painting three to four hours after they won the gold.

“Team GB appointed me as an official artist of the 2020 Olympic Games. I was painting at their HQ and I met Daniela [British Rowing’s Commercial Manager] and we talked about painting at the GB Trials.

“We had to be creative because we weren’t at the Trials, so we studied the videos.”

I think the athleticism and dynamism of rowing suits my style

Thoughts on rowing?

“It’s an endurance sport – I don’t think there’s anywhere to hide – and, as an artist, it’s a great sport to depict.

“They’re gladiators but, like cyclists, they have to be team players too. The way they give everything to get over the line, it symbolises life in a way: you have to have pain and hardship to get there.

“I think the athleticism and dynamism of rowing suits my style.

“I like sport because it brings people together. It’s a celebration, but then you also have the skill of the athlete.”

As with the athletes, you and fellow official Team GB artist-in-residence, Max Denison-Pender, should be in Tokyo now…

“The postponement of the Olympics was devastating for everyone, but I’m really pleased for athletes to be able to have a break and rest – and at least they can train. It’s a sore blow to have it postponed, but at least we can build up some momentum when the virus leaves us alone – it gives us more time to plan.

“The official Team GB artist was confirmed in January, so it gives Max and myself more time to build relationships before next year. It’s quite unusual for two artists to be working together, but there’s an element of being in a team.

“I’m 38 and Max is 21, so there’s a different way in which we see the world. We have completely different styles, so we bring different things.”

What does it mean to you to be official Team GB artist?

“It means absolutely everything to me and is the pinnacle of my career. It’s something I’ve been working towards since I completed my fine art degree in 2003.

“Over 16 years there’s been some great moments, but also some difficult moments as well and at times it’s been frustrating because I am so ambitious; so when Team GB made me an official artist it was a 16-year realisation in my career.”

Your job as an artist is to communicate a story of someone’s brilliance and the story of the crowd

How would you describe your signature style?

“My style is expressionistic – I do like strong lines and form, like Picasso, and colour, like Matisse.

“The journey is the process – I’m a painter and combine some woodcut and mono printing techniques. I work with acrylic and use precious materials like 24k gold. Prices are astronomical for these precious materials and high-quality acrylic!”

Which painting means the most to you?

“I did a 60-metre mural at Barnsley FC celebrating the history of the club, inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, and it was down one side of the stadium. I enjoyed this because people can see it. It’s my favourite piece.

“But in terms of my painting it’s the National Anthem because you’ve got the atmosphere of the crowds and the athletes.

“Your job as an artist is to communicate a story – it’s a story of someone’s brilliance and the story of the crowd. You’re communicating your vision.”

Which do you prefer doing – studio or live painting?

“I love the buzz of the live painting because you hear the crowd walk in and their chatter really lifts you and then you think ‘showtime’! Then I think I’m going to show you what I can do!

“Obviously, when I do live painting, I’m under the cosh. There’s a lot of pressure and it’s like the rowers – I have to produce the best work I can, so it’s just letting go and not being afraid, and not being precious.

“But the studio and live are linked. I enjoy both. You have time to reflect in your studio and you can stand back.

“Sometimes it can be a battle, but I always finish it.”

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