The commemorative poster for The Gemini Boat Race 2023 by Rachel Hunt is available to purchase, with 20% of proceeds going to support The Boat Race Fund
The Boat Race Company Limited (BRCL) has commissioned artist, Rachel Hunt to produce the commemorative poster for this year’s race.
Rachel Hunt said: “The first rowing print I made was ’The Boat Race at Putney’ back in 2015. From this, several commissions followed. In 2021, The Boat Race was held at Ely, for only the second time in its history. I was commissioned to create an artwork celebrating this event, with the stunning backdrop of Ely Cathedral. This caught the attention of the Boat Race Company Ltd, who used my original artwork for the 2022 Boat Race. This got a great response and a new commission for The Boat Race 2023 followed.
I choose subjects I love. I think rowing is the most beautiful sport, which lends itself to artistic expression. It is the perfect fusion of athleticism and nature. There are endless possibilities with the composition, and the backdrop to many of the most famous racing stretches are stunning.
My work, ‘The Victors and The Vanquished’ uses the art of rowing to represent a universal concept – the fine line between victory and defeat, where the margins are tight and the rewards are all or nothing. Rowing is the perfect subject to express this universal concept in its most primal form.
I spend a long time planning and researching a work before I actually begin drawing. I like it to accurately represent a subject, but I also aim to pare a subject down to simple geometric forms. Sometimes this is a challenge – choosing what to include and what to omit. The early stages of a work are a challenge- I’m a perfectionist and I need to check every detail, even if it won’t be seen at the scale of the final print.
I don’t row myself- I intend to take a learn to row course later this year, from what I have learnt it is never too late to start! With all my research, I think I’ve got the theory nailed- time to put it into practice.
Rowing really brings the Thames to life, and The Boat Race is one of those events that brings the whole community together. Everyone has a favourite Blue, whether they have Oxbridge connections or not, and it is fun to see this rivalry come out on the day.
Every year I choose a different vantage point along the Championship Course. My work, ‘The Victors and The Vanquished’, was inspired by the 2019 Boat Race competitors as I stood at the finish line. I watched the anguish on the faces of the defeated, whilst the victors cheered and celebrated and it just struck me that these two different emotions were so powerful and contradictory.”
Siobhan Cassidy, Chair of The Boat Race Company Limited (BRCL) said: “We love Rachel’s work. In 2021, when The Gemini Boat Race was held in Ely, Rachel was commissioned to create an artwork commemorating the occasion.
Once we heard that The Boat Race could return to London in 2022, we immediately thought of Rachel’s beautiful 2015 work, ‘The Boat Race at Putney’. We licensed it for use in our publicity in 2022.
The Boat Race was one of the first events to be cancelled in 2020, and one of the first large scale events to come back after the pandemic… We knew that we needed a striking image that would catch everybody’s eye.
The public response was phenomenal. People loved seeing The Boat Race poster on the London Underground, and for many, it evoked the famous Rail and Underground Boat Race posters of the past by artists such Charles Paine and Anne Hickmott.
For many, last year’s posters were a sign that life, and London, was beginning to get back to normal.
Times change and crews change but The Boat Race is forever.
This year, for our first full season back on The Championship Course between Putney and Mortlake, we commissioned Rachel to produce an original artwork. We are delighted with the result. Rachel will be selling this work in her online shop and 20% of the proceeds will go to support to support The Boat Race Fund,
The Boat Race Fund was launched in 2021, with the generous support of our title sponsor, Gemini, and its founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. It has a clear mission is support and engage young people across the UK through rowing. Everyone involved with the Race knows the positive impact that the development of physical and mental well-being, alongside academic skills, has on young people. We want more young people to access a sport we are all passionate about.”
Rachel’s original work will be on view at Putney Pies upstairs from Wednesday, 22nd March until 23rd April.
Paul Mowatt, who runs Putney Pies Art, is curating an exhibition to celebrate the rowing heritage of Putney and the UK’s most famous river – Catch 23. Rachel’s rowing illustrations will be on display alongside rowing portraits by painter Martin Ireland and some works by Martin’s mother Anne Hickmott, who was one of the first women to design a poster for The Boat Race in the late 1950s.