I finally bought my 2012 calendars two weeks ago – by March, the pickings are slim, and I was drawn to this one by Mackenzie Thorpe. There are many illustrators, graphic designers and artists that I greatly admire for their visual richness and ingenuity, some of whom were also featured in that pile of 2012 calendars, but few moved me the way Mr. Thorpe’s work did, and, still does. I want to know these people. How are their lives? What are their loves? What are their thoughts? Are they happy? Are they sad? They kind of look…both.
I want to walk alongside those sheep at bloody sunset…
– in fact, I can’t even think of them as pictures – I think of them as a world I could inhabit. The longer I look at them, the longer I ruminate – I have more questions about the going-ons of Thorpe’s world!
Does the bittersweet quality of his art funnel out of his humble beginnings in a working class, post-war Middlesbrough, England? From his art-starved childhood, when he desperately needed guidance to express himself through drawing? He could clearly draw much better than his peers – a talent that was utilized on school projects like painting backdrops for plays. Despite the recognition of his talent, it was assumed, in his working-class environment that, like everyone else, Thorpe would join the ship industry – which he did, at the age of fifteen.
With no hopes of ever making a living through art, the lonely Thorpe, filled up sketch books with his experiences at the dock, much like van Gogh did at the Borinage. Finally, with encouragement from his uncle, he joined Middlesbrough College of Art in 1977, and eventually transferred to the Byam Shaw school of Art in London – graduating in 1982.
Slowly, the world began to see his art for what it truly is – a reflection of the life that most of us live… its ups, its downs, its joys, its frowns… – expressed with an honesty and rawness, that is often absent in other more stunning works of art.
Find out more about Mackenzie Thorpe at http://www.mackenziethorpe.net/