Geoff Bennett was one of Canada's premier aviation artists. Printed by Williams & Crue Ltd., Summerside. Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) on beige heavy paper very luxurious.
A CAPSULE HISTORY OF THE SQUADRON ...
The 20th of August 1941, marks the birth of the celebrated "Swordfish" Squadron at Thorney Island in England. The “Four Hundred and Fighting Fifteenth” was the Royal Canadian Air Force's first and only torpedo-bomber squadron, its fourth Coastal Squadron, and, for those people who place significance in numbers, the thirteenth RCAF Squadron to be formed overseas. During the course of the war the Squadron called many places “home:” Thorney Island, St. Eval, North Coates, Wick, Tain, Leuchars, Manston, Docking, Bircham Newton, Winkleigh, and her final home at East Moor in Yorkshire [...]
A WORD ABOUT THE ARTIST …
Geoff Bennett was born and raised near Bournemouth, England, not far from the birthplace of 415 Squadron at Thorney Island. In 1953, after completing five years of architectural training, he was drafted into the Royal Air Force for two years compulsory service and earned his pilot's wings under the NATO Aircrew Training Plan in Canada. He then returned to civilian life as an Architectural Draftsman.
Two years later, in 1957, he approached various Commonwealth air forces for entry as a pilot and accepted an offer to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. Geoff spent four years as a Harvard instructor at No. 2 Flying Training School in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, a further three years at the Flying Instructors School, and two more years at Training Command Headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1966, he joined 404 Maritime Patrol Squadron in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, flying the Argus aircraft. Five years later he was posted to the Maritime Operational Aircrew Training Squadron, 449 Squadron, and was subsequently promoted to major. His next posting, in 1974, brought him to the “Swordfish” Squadron as the Chief Standards Pilot, from which he retired in 1977.
415 Squadron holds a special significance for him because this was his last and most memorable Squadron tour. Geoff later joined the Department of Transport in Moncton, New Brunswick, with the Instrument Standards section and has since been appointed Regional Aviation Safety Officer.
Geoff Bennett has been sketching and drawing for as long as he can remember. His early works included pen and ink drawings, watercolours, and casein temporal paintings. As a young teenager in wartime Britain, he became fascinated with flying and the two passions entwined. Forever the aviation enthusiast, Geoff cultivated a fine eye for detail. Indeed, considerable study and research has gone into all of his aircraft paintings.
Geoff's career as an aviation artist, however, didn't take off until 1967 when he first experimented with acrylics and produced a painting of the Argus for a Royal Air Force Exchange Officer in Greenwood. Since that time, most of his aircraft work has been done in acrylics. Although his early acrylics were done on poster boards, he soon graduated to canvas boards. Because he prefers the architect's drafting table to the artist's easel, he still favours the canvas board. Over the years he has painted some 400 aircraft scenes, 300 of which have been Argus aircraft. Half of Geoff's works, how-ever, are landscapes, and this perhaps accounts for the care he takes with the background in his aircraft paintings.
Geoff Bennett has won prizes for his pen and ink drawings and for his casein temporal paintings in several Canadian Armed Forces Art Contests, and has exhibited his works widely on Prince Edward Island. His acrylic painting of the "Abegweit," a popular Island ferry boat, was a particular hit and was subsequently purchased by the Confederation Centre of the Arts.
In 1980 415 Squadron commissioned Geoff to produce a series of twelve paintings of various Squadron air-craft. Working closely with Flight Lieutenant Kevin Baff, a Royal Australian Air Force Exchange Officer on 415 Squadron, who carried out extensive historical research on the scenes portrayed in the "Colours Calendar," he produced the twelve acrylic paintings within three months. For both of them the "Calendar" paintings represented a labour of love. This is the first time that Geoff Bennett's paintings have appeared in print.