Appetite For Destruction (The Wind In The Willows) - Original

Mark Davies British Artist

  • I have wanted to tackle this series for a good while now as I loved it as a kid and there is so much potential to create a series of pieces because of the strength and diversity of the characters alone. The fact that it is wonderfully British makes it even more appealing. I have chosen to explore and illustrate the mindset of my favourite character - Toad, creating a scenario that is a consequence of how his life plays out that relates to how he is portrayed within the narrative. By focusing on this angle it makes for a more interesting body of work rather than simply showing a scenic interpretation of the original. The title ‘Appetite for Destruction’ links to Toad unwittingly setting himself up to self destruct through the choices that he makes that become an obsession and a real hunger.

    Toad is the crazy one, the one who lived the lavish lifestyle with eccentricity and carnage. His battle with the Weasels always interested me and it was always about him and his sports car thundering around the lanes as well as Toad Hall that had a strong presence, the name alone is great. So based on that I have set this piece at the point where this lifestyle implodes and self destructs, the negatives associated from mis-managing his assets and finances come to a head and leave him at the brink. I have left enough open within the piece for you to decide exactly why he has reached this point of despair but the role of the Weasels is one that is suggested at being a metaphoric representation of those who have come after his assets to call in the debt (sparked by the Weasels battling with Toad to take over his home). This is depicted subtly on the sports car where Toad has scrawled ‘You Win you weasely bastards’

    The scene itself shows Toad Hall on fire, not completely as it has just been started, by Toad - is it to claim on his insurance for monetary gain or as a desperate last resort where if he cant have it no weasel can? The same applies to his beloved sports car ( a classic Jaguar for a strong British appeal). It is up to you to choose whether you see dark or light in his character and his actions. For me personally, I think there is light there, an innocence and naivety. That is why I have laid a single dove feather on the door of the car and shone sunlight breaking through the willow tree, subtle so as not to dictate.

    The car itself has just been driven into the field and comes to rest in the foreground. I have avoided cluttering the car with too much detail out of respect for such a classic and respected icon. However there are subtle areas of interest that links to Toad and hints at what is going on. Under the willow tree you can see a pile of freshly dug earth but I have left it open to interpretation as to what could be the reason for this, close to the shovel that is propped up against the bumper there is the open book, Toads’ flat cap, open book, his polkadot bow-tie and rope, this item alone makes you question whether something more sinister or desperate is being played out. Look closely and you will see a single toad hidden against the earth.

    The car shows subtle evidence of neglect, not through choice but hints at a struggle for money, this is his cherished possession so it hurts him to not be able to look after it as he would want. Subtle areas of the paint are rusting and cracking, I again chose not to over-do this out of respect for the car itself. On the bonnet itself are Toads’ iconic driving goggles, lavish and expensive. The inclusion of the crow swooping down to take them is a reference to him having his prized personal belongings taken from him, almost opportunist like.

    If you look closely on the paintwork of the car you will see petrol marks running down parts of the panelling which clarifies the fate of the car and links to the foreground detail. Here you see a beaten up petrol can that has lots of texture and subtle detail, toad silhouettes and the Guns and Roses ‘Appetite for Destruction’ album artwork that links to the title of the piece, such a great album. Toads’ driving gloves, stained with petrol, a recently lit rag and ornate gold lighter sit close by. Look closely and the label on the lighter has the Hell symbol and the scrawled message ‘BURN IN HELL’ which further adds to the darkness through frustration and desperation. Finally the single Matryoshka doll rests on its’ side amongst the long grass (a link to my first published collection).

    In summary I set out to create a piece that was intriguing, very different to what exists and one that was classically British, a piece that makes you think and one that will hopefully show the potential for a select series of work whilst being iconic in its’ own right.
    1. Released: 2016
    2. Collection: Storyteller
    3. Specification: 1 of 1 original framed embellished canvas, hand signed by artist.
    4. Image Size: 48” x 36"
    5. Framed Size: 54” x 41"

Category: spo-default, spo-disabled

Type: Original Artwork

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