BT Piper logo on which Peter Denmark worked as illustrator, Wolff Olins, 1991
Michael Wolff remembers Peter Denmark, a much-valued former colleague at branding consultancy Wolff Olins, who died last month
Prudential logo, Wolff Olins, 1986
Peter Denmark (1950 – 2014) died peacefully on November 7 at his home in Cambridgeshire after dealing very bravely with a long illness. No one did more, over many years, to express Wolff Olins’ inimitable sense of humour.
He came to see us aged 16 wearing a dishevelled school tie and blazer. He was funny and cheeky so we asked him to join us as a junior. Very soon he started to draw, paint and illustrate our ideas and concepts. Arriving every day on his thundering Norton, he expressed our spirit so well that we promoted him to be Wolff Olins concept illustrator. His work both represented and influenced us for many years.
There were often small and subtle practical jokes in his illustrations and, sometimes, big ones. Although we were always serious in our work and intentions, Peter never let us lose our sense of humour and the delight of absurdity.
One of Peter Denmark’s abstrtc paintings
After he left us he developed as an outstanding painter. It feels strange to use this word for such a modest and reticent man. As Peter moved from graphics to painting you could always feel the smile in his art.
Peter exhibited widely in London. He was commissioned to paint large works for Cable and Wirelesses HQ, for Stansted and Glasgow airports, and for The Co-op and Orange HQ’s.
His paintings were first shown publicly at Art London 1989 at Olympia, followed by numerous exhibitions in London galleries. His abstract use of paint created bold and exciting works that are highly regarded by London collectors.
Abstract Composition no60, 2012
Some of his most recent work consists of powerful abstract lines filled with brilliant block colours.
He also made free flowing landscape paintings of the rolling, moody Cambridgeshire countryside that surrounded his home His works have been sold in contemporary art auctions alongside Banksy, John Hoyland and Lucian Freud. A constant thread through all Peter’s work, from his earliest graphics to his most recent paintings, was a simple exhuberant joy in life.
Peter leaves his wife Jill and his son Laurence and will always be sorely missed by so many of us who loved him, treasured his gentle kindness, the twinkle in his eye which he kept to the very last, and his outstanding talents.