About five years ago now, I commissioned aviation artist and friend of mine Steve Leadenham to paint me a picture of B for Baker sitting at its dispersal as its crew arrived for an operation. I’d just moved to Melbourne when it was completed and I remember driving all the way to Sydney and back one weekend to pick it up.
As well as the original oil painting (which is hanging on my living room wall as I type), this imagined image of B for Baker and her crew graces several walls around the world in the form of high-quality archival prints. It’s also available in the form of 21x15cm greeting cards. Both the prints and the cards are produced by Steve in-house.
I liked the cards so much that I ordered a small supply of them and they have been winging their way to people who have helped my research all over Australia and the world ever since. But with the number of new people I’ve met recently, I was starting to run out, so I asked Steve to send me some more. He did – and told me a nice little story to go along with them.
About a year ago he was at the Powerhouse Museum’s Discovery Centre in Castle Hill in Sydney’s north-west, exhibiting some of his work during one of the centre’s open days. Also exhibiting there were representatives from the Australian Aviation Museum at Bankstown Airport. They evidently liked Steve’s work, because they suggested putting some of his prints and cards into their shop. They preferred his historical scenes (like this one, this one and this one), and that, of course, included B for Baker.
Steve says it took a while to actually happen, but the long and the short of it is that cards and prints featuring my painting of B for Baker can now be purchased in the shop at the Australian Aviation Museum. Sales, Steve says, have been steady (though not in particularly large numbers) ever since.
Apart from the basic reason that I didn’t (and still don’t) have a confirmed photo of B for Baker, I originally commissioned the painting to act, if you like, as my own little memorial and tribute to my great uncle Jack and his Lancaster crew. So I made sure when Steve first proposed putting the image onto prints and cards that we included some information about the crew and the aircraft below the image or, in the case of the card, inside the top flap. So anyone who likes the cards or prints enough to buy one from the museum will have at least the very basic details of who the men were and what happened to them. Who knows, maybe they’ll even search online and find this little blog.
Getting the story out there.
Ensuring that those seven men – and all the rest who served with Bomber Command – are never, ever forgotten.
That’s why we do it.
These prints and cards are also available direct from the artist. Contact Steve through his website.
© 2015 Adam Purcell