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Hullabaloo and Sort of Twelfth Night

Hullabaloo and Sort of Twelfth Night

By John Thompson


Original artwork

Watercolour and ink on paper


Sizes - Hullabaloo: Image: H: 76cm x W: 57cm/ Framed: H: 88cm x W: 69cm

Sizes - Sort of Twelfth Night: Image: H: 76cm x W: 57cm/ Framed: H: 88cm x W: 69cm

Note: these images are not quite accurate but the best available, pre-glass and framing - the paper is actually much whiter and the black ink far more distinct.

£1,450 each


Beautiful and anarchic, these extraordinary pen and ink drawings are fascinating and mesmerising in their detail and characterisation.


The figures and their antics are based on John's theatrical roots and they have more than an air of stage play and performance about them, coupled with a delight in costume, choreography and satire.


Often working purely in black and white ink, here John introduces spot colours, in watercolour,  to add even more liveliness to the anarchic compositions. In Hullabaloo, we have the fairground carousel and then a scene of disarray and disorder spilling out from it, peopled by a myriad of characters from different historical eras, genres and performance cultures - from flying demons to Edwardian ladies and gangster-types.


In Sort of Twelfth Night John admits to setting out to depict the Shakespearian play and then being disracted into creating other narratives and figures. "I never know where any of my works are going to end up - I just go with the story as it emerges." 


John loves narrative and weaves together the cameos and figures to make a continuous whole. His illustrative style has all sorts of visual echoes, ranging from Alice Through the Looking Glass to Ralph Steadman and even Aubrey Beardsley. 


    John studied fine Art at Gloucestershire College of Art and Design, Cheltenham specialising in Sculpture. His postgraduate qualification was at the University of London and he also completed a Theatre Design course of the English National Opera. Theatre and performance have remained a strong pulse  in all he creates.

    He was an assistant designer at The Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre and won the Arts Council Award for Theatre Design in 1976.

    Later, he worked for many years as a freelance production designer for film and television and, latterly, at the BBC. He is also an associate member of The Society of Graphic Fine Art. 

    "My visual influences and interests range from Titian, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and the Old Masters to Ralph Steadman, collage artist Cold War Steve, 1980s 'art star'Jean-Michel Basquiat and the photo montages of Peter Blake. 

    "A single theme that runs through all my work is narrative, either a proposed story or title or an enigmatic conversation that arrives through a random collection of figures and objects which creates its own internal drama. Inspiration can come from a single word or sentence to a paragraph written by Dickens." 

    Among other places, John has exhibited at The Mall Galleries with both the Society of Graphic Fine Art and the Royal Watercolour Society, He is based in the South Cotswolds, near Tetbury, where he lives with his artist wife Trish and small dog. 

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