A RENOWNED Black Country artist landed first prize in a prestigious competition thanks to help from the police's eye in the sky helicopter.
Robert Perry used a night-time aerial image of Birmingham city centre − taken from the helicopter’s onboard cameras − as inspiration for his entry in a Royal Birmingham Society of Artists’ competition celebrating the city.
The ‘altitude landscape’ specialist - who has erected easels on Dudley’s Turner Hill, Alpha Tower in Birmingham, the Rotunda and Brindley Place rooftops - wanted to capture a twinkling cityscape from several thousand feet.
But when several attempts to get airborne in hired helicopters were thwarted due to adverse weather he turned to West Midlands Police.
He transformed an image from the helicopter’s onboard sky-scanner cameras into an oil-on-canvas creation which impressed the RBSA judges and on Saturday (February 8) it scooped first prize in the RBSA's Birmingham Today exhibition being held at the society's Brook Street gallery, off St Paul's Square.
Mr Perry, aged 69, from Wordsley, who fought off competition from around 200 entrants to win the top 'Dugdale prize', said: "I’ve painted many West Midlands landscapes from tall structures but this time I wanted to go even higher.
"The city centre image from the helicopter intrigued me with its abstract light qualities − the sodium street lamps and turquoise illuminating from hotels − and thought it illustrated Birmingham’s vibrancy.
"I’ve never taken artistic inspiration from the police before but I’ve had plenty of encounters with officers during the 1980s and 90s when I used to paint in the streets in Birmingham and the Black Country in the middle of the night.
"I would often pull my mobile studio van over in the Black Country whenever a landscape caught my eye; it’s resulted in me chatting to many a passing patrol officer, plus some PCs sent out to see me by residents reporting suspicious activity."
Robert’s four foot by six foot oil painting takes centre stage in the exhibition, which runs until Saturday March 1.