- Maurice Hamilton's blog
Senna like you've never seen him beforeMaurice Hamilton January 10, 2015
- Ayrton Senna
Before binning your next pair of denim jeans, think twice. There could be an Ayrton Senna portrait in there. Not in the pockets, as such. But in the material itself.
I wouldn't have thought such a thing possible until I was stopped in my tracks at 'Autosport International'. There, on the 'F1 Racing' stand, was a striking portrait of Senna. Nothing unusual in that, you may say; the legend was photographed from every angle during his career. But I'll guarantee you would also have taken a second look when told the image has been created entirely from scraps of denim. And not just any old denim found in your local charity shop, but from jeans worn by the Senna family.
This is the work of artist Ian Berry from Huddersfield. Berry's ability to create portraits in denim caught the eye of Hans van der Schroeff, a Dutch filmmaker who, as an acquaintance of the Senna family, was looking for, as he puts it, "a truthful way to remember Ayrton Senna for ever for all this current and future fans in the world."
Berry, who knew next to nothing about motor racing or Senna, has certainly achieved that. The image, copied from a photograph, captures Senna perfectly. I could not find fault with it, from the set expression, to the erect posture, to that haunting look in his eyes. But the fact that it is made entirely from pieces of denim brings another dimension in every sense.
I'm not in the least surprised that Ayrton's sister, Viviane, found it difficult to contain her emotions when she saw the work for the first time during an official unveiling last year. And the nice thing is that the entire project has been associated with the Ayrton Senna Foundation, for which Viviane and the family continue to do such good work in the name of underprivileged children in Brazil.
There's a short but moody video on YouTube showing the unassuming and hugely talented Berry at work.
But there's no substitute for the real thing. If you're at the NEC this weekend, go and see Senna in a different light on the 'F1 Racing' stand. You'll not look at your ageing denims in the same way again.
Maurice Hamilton writes for ESPN F1.