NZ Classic Driver
The Michael Turner Collection: Over 50 Years of Motor-sport Inspired Christmas Cards (Porter Press International)
Chas Parker with Michael Turner ISBN 978 1 907085 99 4 Reviewer’s own copy
For more than 50 years, top UK motorsport (and aviation, incidentally) artist Michael Turner produced an annual set of Christmas cards based on his paintings of that year’s F1 and sportscar races, with the majority of them being of Grand Prix cars. In effect, what you have is a superb illustrated history of motor racing from 1960 to 2016. This Porter Press book is the first time they have all been brought together.
For each painting co-author Parker briefly describes the race concerned and Turner himself provides notes on why he chose the particular scene. Turner attended many but not all of the races he portrays, although he had almost always been to the circuit concerned at some time. His absolute devotion to accuracy shines through and he also pays great attention to ‘atmospheric’ accuracy, portraying the weather at the time of each painting together with the correct buildings, advert hoardings and the right colour uniforms for the marshals. On top of that, access to circuits became increasingly difficult, particularly as circuits on normal roads disappeared.
One advantage a painter has over a photographer is that he can insert himself into the scene. For instance, there are some superb views of a race looking head-on from the middle of a circuit, or giving a driver’s-eye view in the middle of a battle for places. A great example is looking over Prost’s shoulder as Keke Rosberg’s Williams overtakes him at the Swiss GP in 1982: they’re all factually accurate but provide a perspective that no photo could provide.
From the simple, unadorned lines of McLaren’s Cooper winning at character-filled Monaco in 1962 to Schumacher’s winning Ferrari at the far more open spaces of the Montreal circuit, every painting is a delight.
With its 204 very large pages, this is a book that deserves to adorn every enthusiast’s library! $220 | Review by Mark Holman