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Mark Postlethwaite
Aviation Art
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Mark Postlethwaite
Mark Postlethwaite GAvA

Born in Leicestershire, England in 1964 , like many of his friends, Mark Postlethwaite had only one ambition during his school years, and that was to fly fast jets with the RAF. At the age of 13 he was devastated to discover that his eyesight was less than perfect and therefore unsuitable for military flying. This discovery completely knocked him for six and it took him years to decide what else he wanted to do with his life. Eventually after leaving school at 16 and working for the Co-op for two years , Mark managed to get a job in photography, thanks mainly to a portfolio he had built up whilst working on a free local newspaper. Photography soon became a good outlet for his inborn creativity and during his 10 years in the business he worked in most aspects of professional photography in London, Leicester and Nottingham, shooting everything from cat food to lingerie, " I preferred the latter!" he says.

Mark started to paint aircraft on canvas at the age of 17 as a hobby. A lifelong interest in flying and aviation history together with his professional knowledge of light through his career as a photographer, soon combined to produce work of the highest standards in this exacting field. In 1987, he became the first ever Artist in residence at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon in what was the first major exhibition of his work.

At the age of 27, Mark Postlethwaite was elected to become the youngest Full Member of the Guild of Aviation Artists and shortly after, left photography to make a full time profession in aviation art. His knowledge of his subject was put to the test only a month after when he competed in and won the TV quiz show The $64,000 Question answering questions on the Battle of Britain. His work so impressed the host Bob Monkhouse that he bought one of Mark's originals there and then.

Around this time, Mark was contacted by the Chairman of 30 Squadron Association RAF with a view to commissioning him to paint a 75th anniversary painting for the Squadron. He drove down to their base at RAF Lyneham and for the first time came into contact with the life that he had so wanted as a schoolboy. " The first thing that struck me was why I hadn't considered joining the RAF in a different trade apart from flying", Mark reflects, " It honestly just never crossed my mind at the time, it was either flying or nothing".

The subsequent painting was received with great acclaim within the RAF and soon commissions were rolling in on a regular basis from various Squadrons including a three year association with the world famous RAF Aerobatic Team The Red Arrows.

On top of this, and more importantly for Mark, the Squadrons were offering him the chance to fly with them as part of the research process.

By 1995, he had built up many hours of military flying in types such as the Hercules, VC10, Gazelle and Tucano in the UK, Germany and Cyprus. However, his boyhood ambition of flying in a fast jet still eluded him .

Then, on a grey autumn afternoon in 1996, Mark found himself sitting in a BAe Hawk of 208 Sqn at RAF Valley in North Wales ready for take off. An hour later after a thoroughly uncomfortable but exhilarating tail chase 20,000 ft above Snowdon, his feet touched the ground once more and he realised that that boyhood ambition had been finally achieved, in the most unexpected way possible.

He flew again in a Hawk a few months later and then the following year he topped all of this by spending an hour at low level in a Harrier, "the most incredible experience of my life" he reflects "finished off with the famous Harrier bow, when the aircraft hovers above the ground and dips its nose towards the crowd".

"As a boy I used to marvel at seeing the Harrier perform this trick at airshows, I never ever dreamed that one day I would be in the cockpit looking back"

In the following years, Mark has become firmly established as one of Britain’s leading aviation artists in the world-wide fine art print market with many of his limited editions now only available on the secondary market. For example, Mark’s ‘Operation Irma’ print of a Hercules going into Sarajevo, commissioned by 47 Squadron RAF, sold out within a few months and raised over £20,000 for Children’s Charities

Since 1986, Mark Postlethwaite has been working on a series of paintings for the Norwegian Armed Forces. This work has established him as one of the leading military artists in Norway. He is renowned by the Norwegians for his ability to capture their special Norwegian light and his work hangs in many museums up and down the country. He has done numerous TV and radio interviews over there and has had many articles written about him in the national press

Worldwide, his originals and prints can be found in many major museums and collections and his work has been featured many times on radio and television

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