HIS GLOBETROTTING Scarlet Lady is famous the world over as the iconic emblem sat on the nose of Virgin Atlantic’s jumbo jets.

But despite his paintings being exhibited around the globe, Old Town artist Ken White has never had a solo exhibition at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery – until now.

Painter Ken, 76, started an apprenticeship at the GWR Works but left to study at Swindon School of Art in the 1960s.

Five decades on, Ken said it felt nice to finally get a solo show at Swindon’s Bath Road gallery.

And it came as he released a new book, a retrospective of his work written with west Swindon author Angela Atkinson.

“My daughter started it,” Ken said. “She set it up.”

Well known for his paintings of flat capped GWR workers trudging from the railway works, perhaps Ken’s most recognisable art was done for Virgin owner Richard Branson.

The entrepreneur had spotted a full colour advert taken out by Bayer, showing Ken standing in front of his 1976 mural of the Golden Lion Bridge painted onto the gable end of a house now opposite Jury’s Inn.

Branson wanted Ken to paint murals in Virgin Record stores across the globe, keeping him on an £18,000 retainer. He was told: “You work for me now. If I phone, you have to be there.”

Then, in the early 1980s, he was asked to paint a Scarlet Lady design – reminiscent of the pin up girls daubed onto World War Two bombers – that would be reproduced on the noses of Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft.

He drew-up several designs and presented them to Virgin directors, each of whom took Ken’s Lady home. The Virgin Scarlet Lady made her maiden voyage in 1984.

Closer to home, Ken is well-known for his murals. His famous faces of Swindon mural, once plastered across gable end of a Prospect Place building, featured notables like David Murray John and Gilbert O’Sullivan.

The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery exhibition stars more recent works, including landscapes painted by Ken on a trip to the Gower peninsula in south Wales.

Asked at the exhibition launch for his advice for budding young artists, Ken told the Adver: “Just keep going. Have a direction and commit to it.

“My son, who’s here tonight, he’s doing freshwater biology. We had a pond in the garden from the time he was eight.

“I was the same – with art. I had a picture in the Adver when I was 10 or 11, a painting of a clown.”

Sophie Cummings, curator at the Swindon museum, said: “I think the exhibition is a real celebration of Ken’s art and the response we’ve had to it from visitors already just shows in what high regard the people of Swindon hold him.”

Ken White: Railways and Landscapes runs until November 30 at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.