Sunday, 26 December 2010

...To Draw From All Created Things

To Nature

It may indeed be fantasy when I
Essay to draw from all created things
Deep, heartfelt, inward joy that closely clings;
And trace in leaves and flowers that round me lie
Lessons of love and earnest piety.
So let it be; and if the wide world rings
In mock of this belief, it brings
Nor fear, nor grief, nor vain perplexity.
So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to Thee,
Thee only God! and thou shalt not despise
Even me, the priest of this poor sacrifice.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Monday, 20 December 2010

John Hinchcliffe 1949 – 2010

My stepfather and earliest mentor John Hinchcliffe died early this morning. He was 61.

His death was sudden and unexpected after a short, severe illness – and is a devastating shock to all who knew and loved him.

I wrote about John in my very first post on this blog, nearly three years ago. He instilled in me from an early age the rigour and self-discipline which has proved to this day to be the fulcrum of my own artistic practice.

He taught me that there are no short cuts when it comes to producing work of lasting quality; that you have to get out there and look at what you're painting – not to just imagine it, or glance at it from a window.

His approach was tough, even brutal – particularly for a slight teenage girl who would rather have stayed indoors. But I thank him to this day for the belief he had in my potential, and the time he took to nurture it. I am grateful that I had spoken to him of my appreciation for what he did for me. I just wish I could tell him again.

John's own talents were remarkable and diverse. I cannot think of any living artist who has mastered weaving and printed textiles, ceramics, block, screen and lino print, drawing, painting and photography as he did. He excelled in each of these individual disciplines.

Here are a few links to his work. There are many others which I won't list here.

I am certain that I will write more about John in the weeks and months to come. For now, my thoughts are with my mother, with John's daughter Georgia – and the rest of his family.

(photographs: John at the Craft Study Centre in 2006, animatedly explaining an aspect of his work; John with his friend and fellow artist Mike Geary.)