by John Hodkinson.
Saturday 5 March – Saturday 30 April 2011
An exhibition of digital prints and mixed media work exploring ideas and themes found in the stories and recollections of Scotland’s Travelling people.
The Travelling people of Scotland were tinsmiths, horse dealers, hawkers, pearl fishers, and itinerant labourers and made their living on the road. This way of living has all but disappeared, and with it, the stories, poetry and memories of traditionally passed from generation to generation. However it was in the 1950s, when Scottish folklorist Hamish Henderson came into contact with Traveller culture, that he became its life-long champion, keeping the stories alive through documentation. These stories have continued through Highland storytellers like Duncan Williamson, Essie Stewart and Alec Williamson who have kept the tradition of passing on these stories and who have inspired other contemporary storytellers, including Bob Pegg based on the Black Isle. Pegg saw the enormous potential for a visual interpretation of the collected stories and enlisted his long time friend and collaborator, John Hodkinson to create this series of digital prints in the Tin Road. As Hodkinson says “For this series of prints I wanted to explore ways of illustrating stories using contemporary media and approaches, and avoiding consciously nostalgic, sentimental or well established visual clichés.”.
Each print has been created digitally of mixed media constructions from found objects, which relate to individual stories. The stories that inspired Hodkinson touch on the whole of the human condition, from the tragedy to comedy – though even a joke often obscures a serious side. As Hodkinson says “The stories used various methods to drive them forward, personal memory and anecdote, specific landscapes, metaphor and so on, and I have used equivalent visual techniques in driving the images.” The eponymous work The Tin Road, is an elegy based on a phrase of Alec Williamson’s whilst reminiscing about days on the road, as the old ways were changing, and it was “the end of the days of tin, horses, and plastic coming in.” Another, entitled “Outwitting the Devil”, as told by Alec Williamson tells of an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman and their contract with the Devil. Hodkinson says of his work “In my ‘retelling’ of these stories, the viewer must look out upon the world from within the focus of a unique point of view, ‘hearing’ or telling these stories in his or her own way.”
Hodkinson, an artist, illustrator and designer was born in 1946 in Yorkshire and studied at Leeds College of Art. As well as exhibiting through the UK since 1978 he was also a Senior Lecture at Lancashire University before retiring in 2005. His work is also held in many collections throughout Europe, America and Japan.