In 2009, to mark the centenary of the British Secret Intelligence Service, 45-year-old London artist James Hart Dyke was given unparalleled access to produce a series of behind the scenes paintings for an exhibition called A Year With MI6. It was this work that brought him to the attention of Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli who commissioned him to reinterpret the Bond posters of the 1960s and 1970s. They then asked him to capture all six Bonds for a special painting to celebrate Bond’s 50th Anniversary. Entitled Everything or Nothing – 50 Years of James Bond the artwork depicts all six actors to have played Bond. The collaboration was so successful the resulting artwork has also been used as the poster design for the documentary Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (which is released in the UK on October 5th).
Hart Dyke’s artwork is now available to buy as limited edition silkscreen prints published by Mount Street Galleries in association with EON Productions. They have been produced by the celebrated Coriander Studio (responsible for the manufacture of fine art prints by artists such as Sir Peter Blake and Damien Hirst amongst others) and available in four different colour-ways: Yellow (edition of 200), Red (edition of 75), Blue (edition of 75) and White with Gold Leaf (deluxe edition of 50).
So James, how did this unique opportunity come about?
MI6 approached me to be their artist in residence for a year, which I had to do in complete secrecy. Barbara and Michael had missed the main MI6 exhibition so we put together a little private exhibition for them. I love the old Bond posters and the way they combine painting with graphics, it doesn’t happen now so much, so I painted the Bonds in quite a scruffy way combined with hard graphics and showed them my idea and they seemed really interested in it. I based it on the first poster for DR. NO with the same feel and the same colours.
And then they commissioned you?
I had ten days to take it from the sketch design to the final design. At the time we didn’t know it was going to be the poster for the documentary, it was going to be a silkscreen print to commemorate Bond’s 50th anniversary and then when they saw the final print they thought they could use it for the film’s poster.
Did the producers ask for any specific changes or direction?
I’d shown them the concept and they liked that. The idea was to have all of the Bonds lined up and they helped get the images I could copy for the painting. I then had to work out which of those images would make a good painting, which had the right light on their face and as a group they needed to fit together. Some images are good to paint and some aren’t, some I tried just didn’t look like them; it can be quite tricky. I used acrylics and the idea was to let the paint drip down at the bottom of each Bond.
Were any of the Bonds more difficult to paint than the others?
Mr Lazenby was quite difficult, I don’t know why. I really struggled with him but I got there in the end.
Did you draw them all individually?
I would usually do a full scale painting or maquette but because of the timings and the fact we needed to do it quickly, I did individual images and then put them together on the computer. I once read that for the first Bond film the designers were given 20 minutes to put together the gun barrel sequence, so it’s sometimes a good generator for design if you’re limited for time.
Have you always wanted to design a movie poster?
It’s a dream. I love posters. I love graphic design but have never done it before professionally. I’ve done lots of different things but I was probably best known for doing traditional landscapes and it’s not as exciting as the Bond world. But the entire basis of painting comes from landscapes, people look at them and think they’re old fashioned but actually you need to learn that stuff first and then can take those skills into doing something more funky and graphic.
And the painting is going to be available as a limited edition silkscreen prints?
We’ve generated different posters using different colours. We’ve produced a red one that looks a bit like the colour used for the FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE poster and a blue one and a special deluxe white one. They’ve got a bit of a Warhol look about them.
Are you a big fan of 007?
I love Bond. I’ve always loved painting and I’ve loved adventures so from a very early age I’ve always been combining the two: I’ve been a soldier for a bit and a skydiver. And James Bond is the ultimate character who combines aesthetics and adventure. Take skydiving, it’s adventurous but it’s also very sensitive, you have the same thing with painting and it’s like Bond films, it’s powerful and gutsy and then at times it’s very sensitive.
Did you spot any 007-type characters when you were in residence at MI6?
Not so many. The really good ones are the ones you wouldn’t notice. The Mr Grey types, who just walk past you and you don’t pay any attention to. From the beginning MI6 wanted pictures of them doing things, which I did, but I also put some more surreal ideas in there, some objects that only they understand. I did manage to slip in one Bond reference in one of the paintings – it’s of a rubber duck and in the background are the white circles you see at the beginning of the Bond movies. That was the only reference I got in.
Do you have a favourite Bond film?
I love the scene from THE SPY WHO LOVED ME where Roger Moore skis off the cliff. Obviously being me I love the landscape but Bond films are usually so full of action and so fast moving it’s quite courageous to have such a long period of silence. My heart leaps every time I see it.
James Hart Dyke
“Everything or Nothing – 50 Years of James Bond”
Main Edition of 350 (200 Yellow, 75 Red, 75 Blue)
Deluxe Edition of 50 (White w/ Gold Leaf)
Image Size: 80 x 64 cm
Sheet Size: 100 x 85 cm
Published by Mount Street Galleries Ltd
Screen Print onto Somerset Tub sized 410gsm paper, with a Satin and UV Glaze, gold leaf (Deluxe Edition)
Signed in pencil and numbered by the artist
For full details and to order online visit Mount Street Galleries