Monday, January 09, 2006

Our English Coasts


Acrylic on Canvas
237 x 165cm
2006

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Shadow of Death

Acrylic on Canvas
2005
144cm x 144cm

Friday, December 02, 2005

Portrait of the Artist, Nehemiah Hancock with Charlotte's Ghost

Pencil on Paper
40 x 30cm
2005

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Works on Paper

Pencil on Paper, 75 x 50cm, 2006

Pencil on Paper, 25 x 35cm, 2006


Pencil on Paper, 35 x 39cm, 2006

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Our English Coasts




Studies for 'Our English Coasts', Pencil on Paper, 2005

Works on Paper

'Ophelia', Pencil on Paper, 2005, 55cm x 35cm

'Shadow of Death', Pencil on Paper, 2005, 55cm x 35cm


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Charlotte Sometimes


Acrylic on Canvas
2005
40cm x 60cm

Charlotte Sometimes


Acrylic on Canvas
2005
60cm x 40cm

In Ancient Times


Acrylic on Canvas
2005
40cm x 60cm
Private Collection, Edinburgh

In England's green and Pleasant Land


Acrylic on Canvas
2004
40cm x 60cm
Private Collection, Manchester

Among These Dark Satanic Mills


Acrylic on Canvas
2004
60cm x 40cm
Private Collection, London

Shine Forth Upon Our Clouded Hills


Acrylic on Canvas
2004
60cm x 40cm

Charlotte Sometimes

Acrylic on Canvas
2005
45cm x 30cm

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Charlotte Sometimes - Artist's Statement

Last year I became interested in researching my own family genealogy after my interest was piqued by a passing comment by my Aunt. She had speculated that I had inherited my artistic ability from a distant relative on my father’s side of the family whom they believed had also been an artist. None of my relatives were aware of any of his work still in existence but my Father did remember having seen an old box that supposedly belonged to him. The box was said to contain some old letters and drawings, but my Father had been forbidden to read them and they had been hidden away. I was extremely keen to see what was contained within these letters and learn more about this relative, and after some persuasion the box was eventually located in my Aunt’s loft. Upon opening the box I discovered it to be an immense treasure containing a number of letters and a few sketchbooks. The letters cover a period of roughly one year dating from 1875. The previous owner of the box had been my Great Great Great Uncle, Nehemiah Hancock.

The artist Nehemiah Hancock was born in 1844 in the Derbyshire village of Great Longstone, near Bakewell. He was the youngest Brother of my Great Great Grandfather, Ralph Hancock. At an early stage his artistic talent was discovered and the local Parish, St. Giles supported Nehemiah whilst he attended the Art School in Manchester. His father Matthew, an agricultural Labourer, had died in the May preceding his birth in July of Pleuritis at 41 years. His mother, Ann was now a pauper and a ward of the local Parish.

Nehemiah had remained in contact with his mother, and together they would visit her sister, Lavinia who had married a widower, William Bradley and moved to Leeds. William had a daughter from his previous marriage, Charlotte who was 10 years David’s junior. It seems that Nehemiah was very fond of his cousin and upon Charlotte’s 21st birthday he asked for her hand in marriage. It seems Charlotte was a very turbulent girl and suffered a great deal from melancholy. Shortly before they were due to be married, Charlotte took an accidental overdose of Laudanum and died in February 1875. At this point the correspondence that I discovered inside the wooden box commences.

The content of these letters is quite extraordinary. The majority focuses upon the daily life of the artist, his artistic views and various incidents that happen in his career. These letters are an important document presenting an insight into the life of a Victorian artist working in the Provinces. Yet, as hinted at through my father’s recollections, these letters contain a darker side drawing comparisons to the Gothic Literature of the period. Whether these letters detail genuine incidents or are merely evidence of the Victorians morbid fascination with death and spiritualism is uncertain, but the letters are elaborate in their detail, entwining day-to-day experiences with supernatural occurrences. It seems that Nehemiah was affected by a series of ‘hauntings’ that he attributes to the recently departed Charlotte. Over the period of the year these incidents are meticulously documented. At first they are barely discernable within the text, but slowly as the letters progress they become more apparent. By the end of the year his mental health has been seriously compromised and the letters climax with a major tragedy. In January 1876, on the anniversary of Charlotte’s death there is a fire in Hancock’s studio, in which all the works he has been producing over the past year are destroyed.

For the Charlotte Sometimes paintings, I have attempted to recreate these lost works. I have used descriptions from within the letters and sketches where they were available. From the sketches and descriptions that remain, the style of Hancock’s work is decidedly Pre-Raphaelite and he was hugely influenced by their work from an early age. Several of their compositions seem to be an inspiration for his work and he claims to be associated with Frederick James Shields, a student of Rossetti, and to even have met the great man on occasion.

Throughout these works I will attempt to recreate Hancock’s vision for these paintings. The letters and sketches give a detailed account of their description and also included are the artist’s intention of the inspiration and symbolism. What is unclear is the stage of completion of these works at the time of their destruction. I will therefore work up several of the most appealing compositions to their completion. However all the works depict a girl in a red dress haunting a series of landscapes and are suggestive of the artist’s manifestations of his melancholy. The whole series is a tribute to his lamented ‘Lottie’ and over the course of the next year or so, I will finish my Great Great Great Uncle’s legacy.

For my own part, I am particularly interested in how the Pre-Raphaelites’ work was in opposition to the huge technological advancements in Victorian Britain, as they sought to escape into a glamorised medieval world. This idea of escapism has been a central theme throughout my own work. In a society marked by increasing mobility and waning social bonds, there is a desire for intimacy in which we seek environments in which we feel a sense of safety. As an artist it is my intention that my work counters the grim realities of a contemporary society with an aesthetic beyond the ordinary. The aspect of transition creates a vocabulary of yearning rooted in the Romantic and so the themes of Pre-Raphaelitism are particularly pertinent today.