Man Down (The Fall of a Hero)
Chris Spendlove is an Artist based in Devon and has produced a piece of artwork entitled “Man Down (The Fall Of A Hero)”. Inspiration for the piece came from watching a repeat of the television program “Commando – On The Front Line” and another about injured Service personnel returning to the UK. It was watching these programs that he decided that something should be done to highlight the possibility of what could happen within the theatre of war. It was through discussing the idea with Sean James, a friend that does Chris’ framing, that he was put in touch with Mick Veti and a serving Royal Marine who assisted Chris in setting up the photograph that the finished piece was taken from. “It was the combination of all three that really helped making the drawing a reality,” says Chris. “I knew what I wanted to do, but had no idea who to talk to or how to approach anyone who could help. To do the photograph, I needed access to the correct ‘kit’ and weaponry used in Afghanistan at the time. Luckily, Sean knew Mick could help as he still deals with the military (being ex-military and through framing work) and knew just the person to talk to help me with what I needed to do so I could draw the picture”. Arrangements were made to attend 42 Commando at Bickleigh in Chris’ hometown of Plymouth so that the photo could be taken. Chris remembers that day clearly. “It was a very early start! We met the serving Royal Marine (at the time) and he’d just come back from Afghanistan, in fact, as they were getting the kit on, they were shaking the sand out of it, it was that fresh off the frontline!” When it came to the pose, Chris was asked what he wanted. “I said ‘Mick has just been shot…. Do what you would do’. Quick as a flash, he ripped open the body armour, ripped open the Emergency Bandage, slapped it on his chest, up went his arm and then the shout! It’s unusual to get what you want on the first shot, but that’s what we got straight off, it was perfect!” After the photo shoot, Chris spoke to the Royal Marine (who wishes to remain anonymous) about his experiences. “I listened to his story. I’m still in awe of it to this day. It was told very calmly, very ‘matter of fact’, almost ‘just another day at work’. But the bit that hit me most was the comment of he had come back, some of his friends hadn’t been so lucky and had been killed. It was very inspirational, yet humble at the same time”. Chris then spent a total of 453 hours working on the drawing. Pieces of equipment that had not been available on the day had to be researched and sketched into the picture. This included a belt of ammunition used by the Minimi! Once the main picture was done, Chris then started work on the pieces that individualise the finished pieces. This includes drawing up the Globe and Laurel Corps emblem and Commando Unit ‘Shields’ as well as a Commando Dagger. Chris explains why. “I spent some time serving as an MoD Police Officer and was stationed at HMS Raleigh. I worked with the Royal Marines Band producing artwork for them in my spare time. I learnt very quickly that if I had drawn a uniform incorrectly, it was spotted right away! But I also learnt that people appreciated something that was personal to them, hence all the additional ‘Add-ons’ I do. If someone wants to buy a copy with their Unit on it, it’s available for them, whether it’s just the Commando Dagger they’d like or 40, 42 or 45 Commando Unit etc”. Chris then received news that Hasler Company wished to have Man Down turned into a silver centrepiece for use at Regimental Dinners etc. Respected Silversmiths Anthony Holt were then brought in and tasked with turning a 2D drawing into a 3D object. “That meant setting up the whole pose again, in the same kit, and taking photo’s all the way around so the model makers could use them as reference as they worked”. The finished Centrepiece was unveiled at the Royal Marines Museum on 28th June and was very well received. “The detail in it is amazing, even down to the time on the watch, every detail I drew on the original is all there! From what I understand, the Museum asked Hasler Company on the night if they could borrow it for a month to put on display!” Copies of “Man Down (The Fall Of A Hero)” are available from Artframe Solution in Plymouth and under Chris Spendlove’s section on their website at www.artframesolution.co.uk.