A few years ago I had the good fortune to be introduced to the artist Glen Baxter after a rather long lunch (me not him) at the Academy Club in Soho. I am sure I gushed on at length about what a great admirer of his work I am but fortunately Glen has a tolerant disposition and I managed to procure (and not lose) his e-mail address.
I’ve been big on Baxter ever since I graduated with an enormous overdraft in the late 1980’s and found (almost) gainful employment delivering faxes around the vast offices of Arthur Andersen's management consultancy on Surrey Street off the Strand. The up-side of working in such a capitalist stronghold was the chance to admire their superb collection of modern art as I toured the labyrinth of corridors delivering uber important missives and smutty jokes to the power-brokers therein. Andersen’s owned lots of Glen Baxter paintings and I loved their nostalgic imagery of cowboys, girl guides, and explorers in pith helmets - all in mad-cap scenarios coupled with hilarious captions in the distinctive Baxter font.
There is an old maxim that one should never meet ones heroes but after gingerly exchanging e-mails with Glen I soon discovered that he was a keen oenophile and Francophile and something of a kindred spirit. To cut a long-ish story shorter I eventually managed to cajole Glen into illustrating our 2008 wine list which he did with aplomb inspired by bottles of Picpoul de Pinet, Chinon, Saumur Champigny, Pic Saint-Loup and his personal favourite Christine Vernay’s ‘Le Pied de Samson’ Viognier. The finished list, which was verging on being a graphic novella, was a great success and by popular demand we also produced a set of ‘Adventures in Wine’ postcards and a limited edition poster both of which are destined to become collectors’ items.
Glen’s distinctive and witty work is not only popular on these shores he regularly contributes to Le Monde newspaper in France and his paintings are widely exhibited all over the world. This summer the attractive University town of Poitiers, in mid-west France played host to a major exhibition of Glen’s work celebrating the rich gastronomic culture of Poitou-Charentes. Colourful images depicting all-manner of culinary specialities from Macarons de Montmorillon to Chevreau à la Poitvine were displayed in the principal libraries and galleries and huge monochrome images were hung to dramatic effect on the sides of municipal buildings. This Baxter-fest was too good an opportunity to miss so at the end of our summer holidays I re-routed our 700 mile return journey through Poitiers so that we could marvel at the biggest Baxters known to man. To have the tedium of a long drive broken by an artistic treat was terrific and I even managed to send Glen one of his own postcards to prove we’d made the pilgrimage.
If you want to find out more about the weird world of Glen Baxter then I would heartily recommend that you pay a visit to his website: www.glenbaxter.com
‘Adventures in Wine’ postcards are available from Yapp Brothers at £4.95 per pack of 10 postcards (including postage and packaging) and signed ‘Adventures in Wine’ posters are available at £45 (including postage and packing).