Q&A: The man behind ‘mishmash’

On Friday Wigan Warriors unveiled a piece of ‘mishmash’ artwork encapsulating 150 years of the Club’s history. Here’s an insight from artist Alex Bennett into the making of the ‘mishmash’…

Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about how you started with your ‘mishmash’ creations?

I completed my first ‘mishmash’ in 2013. I had the idea to create a single image of the History of Football. I am a child of the 80s, so I was a huge fan of the ‘Where’s Wally’ books by Martin Handford. My other passion is sport, so when you combine the two you get a mishmash! Someone said to me when I was younger that I should draw what you know, and I’ve obviously followed that advice to the full!

A Club such as Wigan Warriors has a rich history – how do you go about starting a project like this and how do you decide which moments to feature initially?

After adding the unique stadium roof of the DW and Central Park, I started with the moments that are familiar to not only Wigan fans, but Rugby League and sports fans in general. For example, Martin Offiah’s iconic celebration at Wembley, timeless figures such as Billy Boston, the legendary team of the 80s and 90s were all among the first things that I added. As things progressed, I started moving towards less familiar moments such as important drop goals, famous fans and ‘off the ball’ incidents.

The team at Wigan were constantly providing me with new suggestions. There was a great deal of back and forth with certain moments and some players were removed as they begun to feature too heavily. We were all aware that it couldn’t just be about the greatest moments. There had to be balance & include incidents that the Club are probably not proud of… not too many mind!

It’s always more difficult to add things the further back they go, simply because there isn’t as much video footage and photographs to draw from. I made sure I included one of the earliest pictures of the team from 1899 when they lifted the West Lancashire Cup. 

How long has it taken you to draw up the graphic?

Wigan’s Head of Communication, Alastair Hancock, contacted me in November 2021. After agreeing to the project, I completed it on 14th June. I estimate I spent 900-1000 hours working on it. 

There were several moments I added that I had to watch several times on Youtube. For example, I had to make sure I depicted Steve Renouf’s pass to Kris Radlinski vs Bradford in 2000 as accurately as possible.

I tend to work on it into the early hours of the night when the kids are in bed! I often questioned what I’m doing, usually when I was drawing something like a couple of Wigan fans dressed as pie and ketchup and I see it’s 2:30am in the morning! It’s certainly not a proper job!

Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to add about the piece or anything you think we should know?

I would just like to thank Alastair, Kris Radlinski and everyone at the Club for giving me this amazing opportunity and for trusting me in depicting this great Club’s history.

It sounds corny but it really is a team effort to create something like this. That’s what I feel makes the process so enjoyable for myself and hopefully the effort in creating this is noticeable when you see the finished work.