Artist Interrupted; a Portrait of Rozanne Hawksley
I moved to West Wales from London in 2004. Like many incoming artists [and there are plenty of them here,] I expected a local tradition of landscape painting anchored to hillside and coast. These I found in abundance in numerous exhibitions and galleries. What I hadn’t expected was the impact made by two conceptual assemblages comprising stitch-work, bone, paint and fabric. They expressed feelings of grief and loss; of conflict and compassion. Big, human themes. I sought out the artist, Rozanne Hawksley.
Beware meeting your idols. Yes, perhaps, but I have been very fortunate in my encounters. The great Bill Bowes of ‘Bodyline’ renown proved a gentle, dignified giant of a man; Sir Peter Blake was as affable as if we had known each other for years. Similarly, Rozanne Hawksley was everything I hoped she would be. Talented, articulate, witty and generous with her time and criticism. We developed a close rapport, to the point where I was eventually invited to her studio. Here was a store room of source materials; fabrics, animal bones, old nails, beads; organised in trays and boxes, all to serve her visual purposes. I asked then if I might be able to paint her portrait sometime in this environment.
I made several preliminary drawings over four sessions as she worked on her latest piece [based on Handel’s funding of the Chelsea foundlings hospital]. Because I didn’t want to impede her progress, I also made a video. The combination of sketch and film stills provided me with the foundation I required. I was able to interpret one particular frame, where one of my questions had struck a nerve; her dialogue with her work momentarily interrupted…
I framed her image on the canvas with four ‘still-lifes’ representing four preoccupations which creep through her art; conflict, catholicism and loss of belief, natural form, and gender bias based on craft skills.
The relative obscurity in which Roz currently operates prompts the question: just how many other artists of genuine merit remain undiscovered by the contemporary art scene? How many creative voices remain unheard by today’s influential critics and curators who are intellectually hamstrung by a belief that the provinces are a state of mind and not simply a geographical entity, and who are thereby incapable of looking at anything beyond either the M25 or our solipsistic art education system?
Do seek out Roz Hawksley’s artwork. It is individual, innovative and has something profound to say about the human condition. It is not flashy or ‘fast’; it doesn’t give you an immediate hit with no follow up. [add an example of critically supported art from the Brit-brat of your choice here.] Rather, it repays repeat viewings, offering up that little bit more with each encounter. Visual art really doesn’t get much better than this…
Artist Interrupted can be viewed as part of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists‘ 2017 Portrait prize show until Saturday 19th of August