Formula One legend Ayrton Senna has been immortalised in denim by a Huddersfield artist to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the grand prix champion’s death.
Ian Berry used jeans owned by Senna’s family to create an image of the three-times F1 winner for a piece commissioned by the Ayrton Senna Institute.
The charity, based in Senna’s hometown of São Paulo, aims to provide opportunities for poor Brazilian children and improve the country’s education system.
Senna died in a crash while leading the field during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, at Imola.
The portrait, by Netherton-born Ian, was unveiled at the institute yesterday ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix which takes place on Sunday.
An emotional preview showing of the piece, measuring 122cm x 160cm, was held for Senna’s family and institute staff on Monday.
Ian, who works under the name ‘Denimu’, has created stunning portraits of other icons including Marilyn Monroe and James Dean from old jeans.
High-profile Ian is never short of work and has turned down numerous portrait commissions – but the chance to create Senna’s image was a ‘no-brainer’.
Ian, who now lives in Amsterdam, said: “I remember playing a racing game and we all wanted to be Senna. I was only 10 in 1994, but I remember.
“In later life I realised that he was an icon that transcended the sport of motor racing and is one of the greatest icons of the 20th century and his legacy lives far into the 21st.”
Capturing a dead icon with dignity and authority requires sensitivity as well as skill, but Ian’s unique ability impressed the Senna family and the institute.
Ian, 30, said: “He looks proud, as well as showing he had something on his mind.
“I toyed long and hard about his frown. It is very strong on this piece but in most of the images of him he has that – so I went with it and celebrated it.”
Ian, who became a father in February, added: “To be told by the family that it captured all his emotions and every part – the nose, mouth, eyes especially, and even down to the hair – it made me very happy.”
Huddersfield Town fan Ian went to Newsome High School and Greenhead College and spent two years at Huddersfield University before transferring to Buckinghamshire to study advertising.
He first had the idea of making his collections out of denim while clearing out his old room at the Netherton home of parents, Christine and Eddie.
To see more of Ian’s work visit: www.denimu.com