Mount Street Galleries on BBC News

In February 2011, Mount Street Galleries gave painter James Hart Dyke an exhibition entitled “A Year with MI6”.

As part of the centenary celebrations of the Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, artist James Hart Dyke was invited to record their work in a series of paintings and sketches. This unique project saw James working closely with SIS for a year, both in the UK and abroad. Given the sensitivity of the work, James had to observe the need for secrecy and his access to SIS was carefully controlled. Whilst the paintings do not identify actual officers, agents, operations, or actual events*, James managed to produce a series of images illustrating this unusual and secretive world.

It comprises 40 oil paintings and many sketches and studies. Through them, James has conveyed aspects of SIS’s daily life. The images range from simple renderings of places to more interpretive works. Using oil paints on canvas, he has created paintings that combine abstraction and reality.

Giving his reaction to this commission, James said;

“This project has been the most exciting and challenging I have ever undertaken. To have been given the kind of access to MI6 I have been allowed has been an amazing privilege which most people can only dream of. My paintings attempt to portray a sense of everyday life for those working in SIS which is essentially about building relations with people. I’ve respected the need to keep identities secret and the people shown don’t represent the real men and women I have met.”

View the BBC news report on the exhibition:

View the BBC picture gallery of the exhibition: