The right kind of wrong

May 26, 2017

Repeat readers of my blog may have picked up that I have been finding this general election business hard to cope with. It seems to have become a race to the bottom where there have been so many toxic, hypocritical, left wingers digging down to the depths of hell that used to fit the Tories comfortably. Now even those loathsome creatures are having to shuffle uncomfortably on their arse cheeks to allow all the overprivaledged and vindictive nasty lefties a seat at the high table of the lowest levels of hell.

I’ve been trying to find a way to ably process all this rubbish. From the bare faced evil of the Tories, dragging out one vindictive policy after another to the point where their dinosaur voters, merrily sinking into the tar pits, are cheerfully welcoming their own demise. The Tory voters seem to be happily dancing towards the threshing machine with a smile on their face and a song in their heart while labour squabble in their various factions and mostly preach to the converted, whilst the media twists the truth whichever way it’s handful of wizened old male owners tell them to. In short, it’s all a pile of old shit!

My response is to look backwards, back to 1755 to be exact and to William Hogarth’s series of four paintings and subsequent etchings entitled The Election Humours. Over two hundred and fifty years and barely anything has changed, indistinguishable politician crawl their way up the greasy pole whilst corruption, violence and civil unrest surround them. The jingoism, the incinserity, the promises that will never be kept, it’s all there, nothing changes, not by much anyway.

This isn’t the first set of Hogarth etchings that I have done and for these I have decided to use the same materials, biro pen on cartridge paper, this most humble of mediums can produce a remarkable amount of variations depending on how it is used. 

The problem with trying to ape the work of Horgarth is that the guy was a compositional genius. The tricks he played with perspective and depth of field are ridiculously hard to recreate, that said, am trying my best. Even whilst doing one of my shoddy facimiles, the amount of technical under drawing is ridiculous. When you add to that the amount of research into all the art history references and the political and current affairs jokes of the time, things start getting really complicated. 

The first panel, An Election Entertainment is mainly a parody of Leonardo’s The Last Supper with an element of Caravagio’s The Conversion of St Paul thrown in for good measure. I’ve tried to take each element out of it and swap it for a modern equivalent. It’s simplified somewhat as my eyesight just isn’t that hot at the moment but hopefully I have got the general feel of the piece. I won’t go into detail of everything I’ve added as that spoils all the fun but hopefully it’s enough to keep the viewer engaged and scratching their heads a bit.  Time is also a factor as I would like these done by polling day. Sadly, the result for my local candidate is a forgone conclusion, which means that I can safely finish all four drawings before the results are even counted. It would, however, be a drawing I would cheerfully tear up if I got it wrong.

Whilst working over the technical drawings with all my usual chicken scratched characters a friend who used to work for one of the heavy hitters in the greetings card trade that she used to do similar. Working  from the extremely accurate, through to more and more free drawing. There is no other way to do it and get that desired effect. There are too many angles, too many overlaying elements, to just thrown it out there on the page. We decided by process of elimination to call it “getting the right sort of wrong” I rather like that.

Back in (the) Love (cafe) again.

February 7, 2016

P1020954I’m back in love. Yay! No, this isn’t some sickly pre Valentines Day post where I’m plugging my wares to all those lovers young and old. (Although prints, t-shirts and painting make wonderful gifts ūüėČ ¬†) Sadly, and completely not of my choosing, I will be very much single this year. Cue violins. ¬† Anyway, When I say I’m in Love, I mean the Love Cafe in St Leonards on Sea. Not to be confused with Japan’s Love hotels, which are, erm, a very different kettle of sushi.

DSC05779My relationship with this place started when the original owners Rosie and Ed bought a teddy bear I made from me some 8 or so years ago. It was a Viking bear I believe Sven? Eric? Something like that. It was not that long after that I got a call from Ed, He was taking over and old print works and turning it into an art gallery / craft market and was looking people who made really nice stuff to show their wares. When I did put some bears in, I cagily took down a folio of paintings. I thought they’d hate them, most people did back then, but no. They loved them!

So I put some paintings in and I even sold one. Then, as a lot of things do in St Leonards, plans changed and it became The Love Cafe. I was going through a bad patch a little later and I really needed to get some focus and direction into my life. I decided to commit myself to a serious task and that was to produce a version of William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress as both painting and etchings (well, biro drawings to be exact).BWthe prison I’ve found it’s so much easier in life to let one’s self down than it is other people. Personal goals can slide by and we look up and we are years older and “that thing” never got done. So I took a deep breath (and and NHS confidence building workshop) and I went and asked Ed if he would let me put up A Rake’s Progress and I even got him to book a date. There we go! I would be letting someone else down then, I had to do it. It went quite well and I even did a version in booklet form including the story in 18th Century pros. I even got it in the Soane’s Museum after that( The booklet, not the drawings sadly). When I had my first solo gallery show it was Ed and Rosie who bought enough of my paintings to cover my costs. P1020970I would often have a painting or two on display in their cafe though. It’s a loyalty thing. By the time they sold up and moved on I was starting to do more high profile shows, such as the one in the prestigious Towner Gallery in Eastbourne but I took time out at the end of last year to do a photographic face through for them at their new venue in Hastings’ Observer Building. Then came an interesting email via one of my agents. The new owners of The Love Cafe were wondering if I would put some work in there. I was a little wary at first, wondering if it would be a backwards step, going from the Towner and solo shows to having work in a cafe. Then I met them and the new owners Sharon and Colin were lovely. Plus I got bribed by the loveliest hot chocolate, with little pink and white marshmallows floating in it and I was sold. There was one condition though, I wanted to absolutely cover the place. Complete Dweebling takeover. It’s lovely to cover a large space, the scary thing is though, I could have done it three times over. I do hope people actually buy a few paintings or else I may need to invest in a lock up.

You can see the work and have some fabulous food and drinkies and the Love Cafe, Norman road, St Leonards on Sea from now to the beginning of May. Further details Here.



Late Introductions…

March 2, 2015

self portraitHellooooo! My name is Christopher Hoggins and I am the creator of the Dweeblings. I have had to write various artist’s statements recently and had to try and explain exactly why a 44 year old man draws funny little big eyed creatures that are severely lacking in the ear and nose department. So where do I start? Well I’ll guess I should start at the very beginning. That’s a very good place to start. Well I was born is the summer of‚Ķ Ok, maybe not that far back. The first Dweeblings appeared as doodles in my art history notebooks at Middlesex University at some point in 1996. They were among a menagerie of other made up creatures that I used to scrawl constantly whilst I should have been concentrating how to learn proper art speak. My Father had recently died¬†and rather¬†than deal with my emotions I did the typical blokey thing and buried myself in my work but it started to leak out in all sorts of ways, the odd doodles in my notebook being one of them. And there they stayed ’til about some time in about 2000, by which point I had got my degree, had a nervous breakdown, lost my home and found myself living in my mother’s house which was many hundreds of miles from my friends or indeed anyone I knew. For many years I barely left the house and as the internet back then was slower than a snail on valium so I spent and awful lot of time reading books (I even tried writing a couple), playing on my N64 and then my Gamecube and making - Version 2 It was around this time that the first ever painted Dweebling appeared. It was an a very large canvas and had a very long spindly neck and limbs. Now an important things to know about me is that I am more than a touch obsessive. Once I get an idea in my head, I need to go through every idea and every permutation of that idea. I am like one of those automated car factories that churns stuff out day and night and I have no idea where the off switch is. This meant that once I had done one painting I needed to do another, and another and‚Ķ well you get the idea. I realised that these little creatures could do all the things I couldn’t. DSC00732They could travel to Barcelona and check out Gaudi’s buildings whist I couldn’t face getting a bus into town or they could appear onstage as Elvis or the Sex Pistols when I couldn’t stomach the thought of going into the co-op to buy some milk. As time went by I got a little better and with the advent of broadband internet made the world a lot bigger for people like myself. Around 8¬†years and many painting later I eventually, with the help of the original IAPT trial, managed to finally move to my own flat by the sea in St Leonards. The move nearly killed me and I had a particularly awful time with finding out someone I thought was a friend actually wasn’t. Once things settled down though and I started to get out and see things, the Dweeblings also made themselves at home in their ¬†new environment. They started to reinterpret what they saw and started to develop a mind of their own. There were even a couple who didn’t smile‚Ķ. During what were particularly bad years for me, I hunkered down and worked on two series of works on paper. BWthe prison_edited-1Firstly, my own version of William Hogarth’s “A Rake’s Progress” solely using a ball point pen and secondly a complete set of illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. There was a political undercurrent to both these projects, brought about by the Con-Dem Government’s barbaric policies in respect to people justapackofcards_edited-1with mental health issues, particularly in respect to their finances. Hogarth documented, amongst other things, crushing poverty whilst Alice in Wonderland describes perfectly what it is like to work out what is sane in a world which is profoundly mad. Over the last couple of years The Dweeblings have been appearing in portraits, first in a series entitled¬†“The Kings and Queens of Kings Road” documenting the characters real and imagined around Kings Road St Leonards on Sea and more recently in a series of portraits in of the staff and service users of a local mental health support centre where I interviewed the sitters and told their stories in paint. Right now, I am working on a long term project¬†documenting thehidden stories of places in East Sussexand turning them into paintings and colouring in books. And after that, who knows?alltogethernow

Cake Time part 1 – The Inheritance

August 11, 2014
The Inheritance in biro

The Inheritance in biro

I like cake! Who doesn’t? It’s one of the marvels of the world. Flour, egg, sugar, oven‚Ķ 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.

William Hogarth

William Hogarth

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.

The Set of Steptoe and Son

The Set of Steptoe and Son

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

The Inheritance

The Inheritance

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