Colaton Raleigh artist presents Everest art to explorer

David Hempleman-Adams receives Everest painting as thank-you from artist Alan Cotton

AS a thank you for organising a return trip to Everest after a failed attempt to reach its base camp, Colaton Raleigh artist, Alan Cotton, presented explorer David Hempleman-Adams with a large Everest painting on Tuesday.

Alan has so far completed 12 Everest pictures from photos and drawings he made while trekking to base camp at 18,000 feet last November.

David, who runs a chemical company near Bath, visited Alan at his studio home to collect his picture, which he will hang in his conference room at new offices.

“I think it is Alan’s best painting,” the family friend said of Everest’s North Ridge. “What is special about it is it has got a lot of afternoon sun on there, which was identical to that and also it is very technically accurate.

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“You can see the colours and the three steps of North Ridge which you have to climb, so it is a very technically, beautifully done painting.”

Alan’s painting shows the ridge George Mallory and ‘Sandy’ Irvine disappeared on during their 1924 expedition.

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David undertook his summit climb last May and had invited Alan along as his official expedition artist. But Chinese police thwarted Alan, turning his party back at Thringi following pro-Tibetan protests.

“I spent a lot of months there and there was only one day in the whole 60 days when we had evening sun on the mountain,” said David, who funded a return trip for Alan.

“When we both went there we were blessed with the weather, beautiful blue skies and evening sun, which is very rare.

“It was lovely because there were no tourists or other climbers, just the two of us. It was very bleak and you just remember why that mountain deserves to be the highest in the world.

“I couldn’t understand what Alan was going on about, the shadows and shapes. I can understand now I’ve seen his painting.”

It has a wigwam of prayer flags in its foreground, which said David, was part of a ritual carried out by the Sherpas before they set foot on the mountain.

“They are very superstitious. They bring up a lama and have a ceremony which lasts a whole day, when they burn juniper. They only choose a day when the wind and smoke blows to the mountain.

“They put an offering on an altar. We always used to put Jack Daniels on.”

Asked how he felt about conquering Everest’s north and south faces, David said: “I don’t know if you can ever conquer Everest, but I’ve been lucky.

“Everest is my favourite place, it is a beautiful mountain. It’s very harsh and dangerous and lots of people have died on it, but it’s always been kind to me.”

Alan said he wore silk gloves to avoid frostbite while working and described going to Everest as “magical”.

“David is one of the most travelled, experienced explorers in the world. When you have a new experience that is when you best work comes.

“It is way out of my comfort zone being at minus 10, wearing six layers of clothes, which I didn’t take off for a week, but you can’t paint without the experience.”

*Alan’s Everest paintings, together with others from Venice and other countries, will be exhibited at Messum’s gallery, London, from September 12.

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