I like cake! Who doesn’t? It’s one of the marvels of the world. Flour, egg, sugar, oven… Joy! So when I was toying with the idea of doing my own version of William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress the word cake instantly popped into my head and it gave me a cracking excuse to put a cake into every picture. Anyway, before I start explaining about my take on the pictures, I guess I should say a little bit about the original artist.
Hogarth was a printmaker who worked his way up from poverty and became one of the 18th Century’s most celebrated artists. As well as painting portraits, Hogarth became well known for producing series’ of paintings that told a story, usually with a moral message. He would then reproduce these paintings as prints which could be sold on mass to a much wider market than the few who could afford to buy original paintings. It is important to mention that these images were moral in these sense that a tabloid newspaper could be regarded as moral i.e gratuitously describing sex, scandal and intrigue to in a salacious and entertaining manner whilst at the time criticising it. One of his best know of these morality tales was the A Rake’s Progress, the story of Thomas Rakeswell, a foolish young man who who inherits and squanders a fortune and the Sarah, the young woman who loves him and is dragged down with him. For all the pictures in this sequence I first produced a painting in colour using acrylics (I’m way too lazy to use oils) and then I did my version of an etching in biro just to see if I could.
In the first panel Rakeswell, or in this case Bakeswell, inherits a fortune from his miserly father. I needed to set this piece in the house of famous skinflint, I chose the set of Steptoe and Son, remade in America as Sanford and Son, a little know fact that swung this decision for me was that Harry H Corbet, the son Harooooolllllllllddddd! (sorry Harold Steptoe) was from Hastings, where I live and a running feature through much of my work. The cake theme in this image is pretty obvious, being stacked up on the tables and being in many of the portraits. The father’s underpaid accountant is also pocketing a crafty cupcake if you look carefully. On the table in the background rests a motorbike helmet, my version of a memento mori in this case telling us that the father has died. As it pays to advertise, through the open door I have placed a hatstand bearing a selection of scarves I used to make in a previous life when I was a textile and knitwear designer. For much the same reason I have tucked away teddies in most of the works as I also make handmade bears from time to time. Plug, over! The most pivotal thing about this picture though, as far as I’m concerned, is that it includes the first ever sad Dweebling. It was a tricky rule to break (believe it or not there are a sort of set of rules to what I do) but there was no way of getting around this in this set of images. The glum figure to the left of frame with the hanky is Sarah, who has, erm, a bun in the oven. She is being bought off by Thomas for the princely sum of a cupcake. What a lovely chap! Hopefully you have noticed that there is an extra lady in the painting to the ‘etching’, as with Hogarth’s works I have varied details between the etchings and the paintings, I’m not sure why Hogarth did this but my reason is a combination of boredom and or laziness. For each of the panels I also wrote the accompanying story in 17th – 18th century english (or my best attempt at it.) You can purchase your own copy here you lucky thing you! Anyway, that’s all for now. C x