Saturday, 19 January 2013

Dead Man Talking # 15 - Terry Hopwood-Jackson

Strachan McQuade (deceased) Interviews Terry Hopwood-Jackson

On A May Morning
Almost four years ago I got an email from a strange bloke with a beard called Terry Hopwood-Jackson asking me to provide him with the chords for songs on an album called Songs From Lucy's Cottage. This was the first Lol Robinson & Hazey Jane II CD I'd recorded with Phil Rickman. Having already forgotten all the chords by that point I moaned a bit and then made some pretty little pictures of the weird and wonderful chord variations that made up the songs, emailed them off and waited to receive the high praise I deserved for going to so much time and trouble. Instead I got a reply from Terry telling me my dinky little chord charts were worse than useless as he was blind. Oooops. To cut a long story short - we struck up a very firm friendship and did eventually devise a way to for Terry to play those songs. He even travelled all the way to Kinnersley Castle where Hazey Jane II were playing a gig to play guitar with the band and then turned up at Kentchurch Court (posh gigs, eh?)a few years later to grace us with his presence despite not being invited that time. (Only joshing, mate)
It transpired that Terry was more than musically gifted. He told me that before losing his sight he was an artist but had refused to let this setback stop him from continuing with his work. I checked out his paintings on the web and WOW - check them out yourself. Amazing stuff. I used one of his paintings (Moon's Tune) for the last Candy Seance album and plan on using another (On A May Morning) for the new one. Recently I thought it would be interesting to introduce Terry to Strachan McQuade. Not sure if Terry will ever speak to me again.

Terry Hopwood-Jackson

Strachan McQuade R.I.P.

McQuade: I thought it would add an artistic dimension to this interview by locating this week's Dead Man Talking in the Grande Galerie of the Louvre directly beneath the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile, as today I'll be talking to blind artist Terry Hopwood-Jackson, which I suppose makes a change from listening to tone-deaf musician Allan Watson. (Editor - Hoi, McQuade. I heard that) I've now been waiting here for over half an hour for Hopwood-Jackson  to arrive. How rude. I did draw a very precise map for him to find the location and ......... ah, just realised my error.

Never mind, here he is now being escorted by two irate gallery curators who probably found him skulking in a broom cupboard somewhere. Welcome to Dead Man Talking, Hopwood-Jackson. My very first question to you is - 'In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is King'. Have you ever sworn kingly allegiance to any one-eyed men you may have bumped into? I once did shake hands with the fellow with the eye-patch from Dr Hook but didn't go as far calling him Your Majesty. I did also vote for Gordon Brown but that isn't the same thing. By the way I'm over here Hopwood-Jackson, that's a statue you're about to talk to.

Hopwood-Jackson: McOy! and my encrusted slavering slave Hypergob – my pc’s irreverent, but not irrelevant, speaky-type voice thingy, has taken a McLook at yer McQuestions and we thinks you need to get McReal!  McChristmas has been and gone, twas ever thus, so I’m going to turn a blind eye to your McPantomime routine; “he’s McBehind you”, et al!  So, if these two goons will let go (here THJ clubs the curators about the head with two soggy leg ends; Nick to the right, Lol to the left), then we can get on with this whole rigmarole!...and to answer your question, I did bump into a tall type person with only one eye or so I thought and it was only after swearing very regally, that I found out later that it was a lamp post!

McQuade: Ha! I'm standing behind you now. Took off my shoes and crept round while you were talking. Now, I suppose the question everyone wants to know is how you manage to produce such inspired paintings. What's your secret? I promise I won't tell anyone. Also, what artists have been your influences over the years?

: (yawns) Wake up and smell the coffee Mac, cos I can smell your endearing fragrance – Essence of Haggis No. 8 is it? – and it gives the game away, especially that rank shank of venison in the corner. 
Well, I guess at this point, you’re expecting a really seereeus answer to your kwestchun, so here goes. (Editor - are you sure that voice translator gizmo is working properly?)
I spend a hell of a lot of time thinking about it and when I’ve finished thinking about that, I spend a hell of a lot of time thinking about my paintings.
I have to pare things right down to the basics and as well as working initially with the canvas on the floor, I also have to visualize how the painting will look when it is upright.
I draw/sketch out my picture with a thin line of plasticine then, apart from the use of pure paint for the sky, for example, I build up the painting with textured areas of plasticine.

But lately, because for whatever reason, the plasticine does not always hold to the canvas, I am, yet again, rethinking my technique and will possibly have to use a medium (Editor - Doris Stokes? Surely not?) – no, not that kind – to thicken the paint so I can apply it with more tactilation.
My main problem is trees, trees and yet more trees.  I love landscapes, but they always feature trees and these are becoming decidedly more difficult to represent realistically and they have a habit – or hobbit!...are they ents? – of coming away from the canvas, hence the rethink.
Well, I don’t know whether they’ve inspired me, unless subconsciously or subliminally, but my favourite artists are: Constable; Munch; Modigliani; Matisse and Magritte – and a few others.  There are also composers who do inspire me: E J Moeran; Vaughan Williams; George Butterworth for my landscapes and Erik Satie for my nudes.

McQuade: Actually, I'm over here now. I wandered across to look at this interesting painting of a lop-sided parrot. Tell me, as an unsighted artist, it must be difficult knowing which colour to apply to your work. How do you accomplish this? Perhaps all the colours have a different odour or maybe you simply use the first one you pick out the box?

Hopwood-JacksonActually McQ, it’s the wall upon which it hangs that is lopsided, not the parrot! 
Anyway, I make sure my paint tubes are brailled up – dat’s de dotty way we total blinkos read – so I know which paint is what.
I could and have used the paint – acrylics by the way, less messy – straight from the tube and paint blind, but as I try to be as representative as possible, I ask my sighted partner to help mix the colours to those I remember.

McQuade: Ha ha. I'm not even in the same room any more. Slipped next door to look at the Venus de Milo. Hang on. (sound of running feet) By Jove, where's he gone? Ah, sorry, wrong room. (more running of feet) Here we are! I'm told you not only paint but also indulge in a spot of writing. Obviously a man of many talents. What do you write about? And how do you know if your pencil has become blunt?

Hopwood-Jackson: Hang on and Venus De Milo don’t go together as she hasn’t any arms, so I guess you grasped her busty protuberances, no doubt!
Well, my writings aren’t in the same league as an, erm, (here THJ dips into his jiggle bucket)  an Allan Watson type author
(Editor - but who is?) and they’re a whole millennia away from the sort of stuff he writes.
They are stories for children, aged five to eight years and they tell the adventures in which three young hedgehogs become involved.  Yeah, I know, but I don’t care, I still believe in the Age of Innocence.
I have written four such stories and am working on two others and I am considering putting them up onto Kindle, once I have found an illustrator – I can no longer see to do line drawings – and hopefully, I think I have found an illustrator; Mairead Reidy.
Other than those, I have written poetry in a balladeer kind of way, nonsense verse  and short stories.

McQuade: Think we’ll pass on the balladeering poetry. The curator is drawing us dirty looks and tapping at his watch. Must be about to chuck us out. So one last question. Do you know where the toilets are? I forgot to pack my catheter and I'm desperate to urinate. While I'm gone you can talk into my Dictaphone about where people can go view your unusual techniques on creating art.
Hopwood-Jackson: Much more preferable than talking to your dick!... (Editor - Did he really say dick? Disgraceful!) and let’s check out those drawings he’s done.  Okay, for those not of a nervous disposition and a staple diet, my picturesque dabblings, plus a whole host of other delights, can be found at:-
And please, when you leave, please turn out the light.  Thank you.

McQuade: (Shouting from toilet) By Jove! – that was quick, I'm still dribbling away in here. Anyway, thanks for talking to me Hopwood-Jackson. In appreciation I'd like to present you with an old Betamax video player. You'll never notice the difference in picture quality anyway. Just as soon as I wash my hands and wipe down any splash-back stains my trousers I'll lead you safely to the exit. In the meantime don't go near that modern art display featuring a tank full of man-eating sharks and killer squid .........................


McQuade: Funny how these interviews so often end up this way. Hmmmmm. Wonder if I can palm off this Betamax player to MR Hall.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed the interview! I'm glad to get to see some more of your paintings, Terry. I've always loved Moon's Tune on the Candy Seance cd. Keep up the good work. Julie Adams