Paragon: a key to the city
16th August 2018 | Project spotlight
As a child Shaun Montford would often spend his weekends hanging around jumble sales with his mother, who had a penchant for collecting antiques. Whilst his mother would rummage for antique pots and bits of brass, Shaun would spend his pocket money on old Giles comics and other cartoons that he stumbled upon.
“All the books were obviously old and the references were things, as a child I didn’t understand, so they were part of a mysterious world. Then later I found out about Ralph Steadman [most famous for his work with Hunter S. Thompson] and Gerald Scarfe [Punch magazine], and Fluck and Law [Spitting Image]”
After doing an Art Foundation at St. Martins, Montford decided the art school life wasn’t for him and opted for a career in interior design instead, where he has since worked on several award-winning projects for G.A Design, including the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam and the Corinthia Hotel London, the latter of which commissioned him to produce several works for their Whitehall Penthouse Suite.
The suite, which imagines itself as a politician’s abode, is now home to several of Montford’s illustrations; the subject – Britain’s most influential Prime Ministers, in his signature caricature style.
“It was a lot of fun and educational, as I read up a lot on post war politics. Anthony Eden was a matinee idol. Clement Attlee is under appreciated for his influence on our lives today.”
This newfound respect for Attlee appears to permeate the pen and ink drawing (materials preferred by the artist for their finality). Montford’s interpretation suggests a modest yet wise leader, and although the request was for the drawings to be illustrative and avoid criticism, it is hard not to notice that Thatcher was given a far less flattering depiction.
When choosing his own subjects, Montford tends to veer towards iconic film stars and TV personalities, such as Clint Eastwood and Tony Hancock.
“It helps if they’re recognisable. There’s nothing worse that twisting an image to a point to be told that the viewer just doesn’t get it.”
Keen to explore alternative styles, Montford plans one day to focus on portraiture, however, his childhood love of comics is never far away – next up is a dystopian Graphic novel. So perhaps we will be seeing some of those familiar politicians again after all.