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Pete Hawkins

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Pete Hawkins
"I was born in 1980, on the other side of the world in Panama City. This was an exotic place to start one’s life, and even though I haven’t been back since I was 18 months old, it was the start of my semi-nomadic life style which definitely made a lasting mark on my character!

With my brother, my family moved around all over the world from the US and Europe to Southeast Asia and beyond. Living in a total of about 12 different countries by the time I was 20 is pretty exceptional and meant that I bumped into many different and interesting people, and experienced a wide range of places, food and art. My parents and grandparents have always been collectors of paintings. They have an eclectic mix from far flung places on the earth.
Having a fairly short attention span when I was young meant that drawings I began never really got finished, so it wasn’t until later on that I discovered I could draw. Painting followed a similar path and when I became more proficient, I turned to portraiture. While at school I was studying Chuck Close and using him as inspiration for my work.

I was asked (gently persuaded) to paint a large portrait of the Queen as she was going to visit the school to open a new building. She arrived on the big day wearing pretty much exactly the same clothes that I had painted in the picture, even down to her brooch. Quite a scoop for the press who decided to take a lot of photographs of the scene and then ask me if she had sat for me that morning. Bearing in mind it was a 6 ft by 5 ft painting, that would have been a world record for the quickest painting. The result of this madness was that my painting ended up in much of the press all over the world, (even in China!). So it was a good start to my painting career.

On leaving school and going to university I did the obvious thing and took a degree in Business Studies! Art was never an option for me as I had been put off by horror stories about art students still not being able to paint years into the course and generally sitting around discussing the difference between a raisin and a currant. In my mind everything was a business whether it was painting and selling art, or working in a bank. After 3 laborious years of study, I launched myself into the big world and got a job in London working in radio advertising. This was mildly entertaining for a couple of years, but it didn’t really suit me.

During this time I was painting more and more and eventually managed to jump into the unknown and leave my job to become a full time painter. To do this effectively I thought the best thing would be to move to the rugged Atlantic coast in Spain and set up camp there for a year. It was an extremely beautiful and cheap place to live and it hadn’t been stripped by the tourist trade, like the Costa del Sol.

So I embarked on this mission with no real direction in mind for my work. I just wanted to see what happened. Inevitably some of the work I produced was pretty substandard but some of it had promise. I was taken in by the world of bullfighting and flamenco dancing, which I think are closely connected, and produced work with these subjects in mind. After a year of this I realised that the south west corner of Spain was not the place to prosper as an artist so I returned home. In celebration I had an exhibition in the Cosa Gallery in London showing most of the good work I had produced in Spain. This went well and renewed my intent on being an artist.

With a brief stint in Guernsey (where my parents live) in 2007 I moved to live full time in London and started renting a studio at the Wimbledon Art Studios. This immediately changed lots of things. Being around other artists is more inspiring than an old Spanish landlady and opportunities arose by meeting gallery owners and other important people.

However London is an expensive place for an artist early in one’s career and I found myself painting pictures to pay the bills rather than experimenting with different ideas as much as I would like.
I have always been drawn to ideas for paintings that have a narrative which the viewer can relate to and which lend a sense of amusement. Which is how I come to my most recent body of work.

I believe that inspiration for good ideas is to be found in the most mundane places. It was a moment of clarity when I found a piece of wood in a corridor which had been used to work out maths sums, for doodling and the odd derogatory comment about someone's class mate. I liked the idea that these paintings are a sort of elaborate doodle of a school boy or girl’s dreams, hopes, and aspirations. In a child's mind, the possibilities are endless so with that thought I have tried to create images of obscurity where ordinary depictions of people and objects are put together to make up something out of the ordinary.

Artworks by Pete Hawkins