Exclusive by Inge Kruger
I am a digital artist and music business executive with extensive experience at the sharp end of the UK music scene. Recently I have been working in partnership with oil painter Scarlett Raven creating Augmented Reality fine art. We started working together in 2014 and together we created an exhibition named ‘The Danger Tree’.
The exhibition takes its subject matter from the stories and poetry of the first world war. We launched our first exhibition on July 1, 2016, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the Battle of the Somme. The exhibition took place in Greenwich London.
Prior to working with Scarlett I was a senior member of the UK music industry. I studied art but followed my other passion of music as a youngster. My career included serving for 18 years as the managing director of each of the Island records companies including 10 years as the managing director of the main label for the world excluding the USA. I worked directly with U2 for 18 years and was in charge of their worldwide career from 1990 to 2000.
Under my management the label signed a varied range of artists from Elbow, Pulp, PJ Harvey, Tricky, The Cranberries to Nine Inch Nails and NWA.
My core skill is in spotting and developing talent.
When Scarlett came into my life I was the chairman of Crown Talent, a large London based management company developing the careers of music artist, TV presenters, premier division football players and a Formula 1 driver amongst others.
Painter Scarlett Raven decided that I needed to take an artist under my wing too! for two years I refused her solicitations on the basis that art was a world l knew little about business wise and I had no connections to. I left the door open however, telling her that if I came up with a big idea I’d come back and talk to her.
At one point in 2014 a number tech companies came calling because we managed big ‘influencers’ and pop stars like Jessie J, Becky Hill and Ella Henderson. Each of the three singers had had consecutive number one singles, knocking each other off the top slot so we were considered a hot company. Amongst the technologies on display I immediately saw the potential for a marriage between augmented reality and fine art. I re-approached Scarlett she and I created ten augmented paintings together. Scarlett was responsible for the physical painting and my role was in adding the augmented reality and animation beneath.
I engaged first class actors such as Sean Bean, Christopher Eccleston, Gemma Arterton, and Stephen Graham, to perform some of the most powerful World War I poetry from the likes of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke. The work was hugely enhanced by composer, Marc Canham’s atmospheric, bespoke music beds created especially for each painting.
Even though the subject matter was dark, the technology nascent, and the artists unknown we had an immediate and conspicuous commercial success on our hands thanks to a deal I made with Castle Fine Art who are the U.K.’s number one commercial art gallery business.
Scarlett and I were adamant that we didn’t want our work shown on a white gallery wall like other art, so continuing on the war theme, I commissioned movie set designer Kave Quinn to build us a portable set portraying a destroyed art gallery. She designed it based on ww1 photographs from Picardy in Northern france taken in June 1916 just prior to the launch of the battle of the Somme. It weighs five tons and we took it (and a team of builders!) to every city we exhibit in.
This was my first venture out of the music industry in 40 years and it rather changed my life. The Danger Tree’s commercial success forced a choice upon me: did I want to carry on in an industry that I had devoted my life to or was I prepared to take a risk and do something exciting that focused on ‘me’ rather than the other talents that I have been in service to for so many years? My choice was to take a risk.
All the paintings in the show are huge 4’x4’ paintings, sometimes an inch thick with oil paint. Scarlett is a graduate of London’s prestigious Central St Martin’s school of art and her work is very vibrant and beautiful.
The success of the first exhibition led to our first national museum show. We exhibited at the Liverpool Maritime Museum’s building the Martin Luther King Jnr building and enjoyed our second commercial hit with every single original painting and all the prints derived thereof selling out by year end.