An Artist’s Year with MI6

Monday’s Guardian UK had a rather interesting, and unusual, story from the world of real-life espionage. Joanna Moorhead’s article concerns an artist who was tapped by Her Majesty’s Secret Service to infiltrate itself, sketchpad in hand, to (covertly) record life in the secret world of spies.

James Hart Dyke


British painter James Hart Dyke was no stranger to the official world; he had previously accompanied Prince Charles on four royal tours as an official artist, and had also been embedded with the Grenadier Guards, in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a war artist. Next step: MI6, under the watchful eye of its chief Sir John Scarlett, a.k.a. “C.”

What follows is a fascinating story of an artist charged with illuminating a dark world of suspicion, ambiguity, and intrigue. And you can read all about it at The Artist Who Spied on MI6, along with viewing samples of the work he brought in from the cold. There’s also a follow-up article, by the Guardian‘s security editor Richard Norton-Taylor, wherein his works are reviewed by the professional spooks that were the subjects of his study.

One Response

  1. As one who’s made his living as an illustrator, I’m fascinated by this project. Oh — and, by the way — I think the artist’s impressionistic style is perfect for the shadowy, often-illusory subject matter. wonderful stuff.

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