John Hurst: Artist profile
Born in 1951, in North Lincolnshire and graduating from Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln - Fine Art, in 1972, John Hurst now resides on the North Norfolk coast with his wife Jacqui.
Coming from a working agricultural family and having spent much time on his own, his artistic instincts developed at an early age. Despite this isolation, a love of ancient agricultural practices and folklore can be seen reflected in his images as remnants of a bygone lifestyle. For the past 25 years, John has worked mainly on commissions for a number of patrons, including The Earl of Yarborough, Sir Ian Botham and the Dean of York, Durham and Lincoln Minsters in the form of limited edition prints which were produced in aid of fabric funds. He has travelled widely, gaining inspiration from a variety of environments.
John published his autobiography ‘Watercolour Words’ in 2000 and in 2003 completed a national collection of Wesley Heritage studies, featuring architectural, landscape and interior compositions sourced from across The United Kingdom and Ireland. This collection formed the illustrative framework for his book, ‘John Wesley, A Pictorial Journey’. This body of work is now known as ’The Hurst Collection’ and is owned and exhibited by The World Methodist Council at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, USA.
Patronage by The Earl and Countess of Yarborough at Brocklesby, Lincolnshire has included an estate portrait made up of 50 original studies of this prominent estate for the Pelham family house. In order to do this, John visited the estate over the period of one year in order to capture the essence of a working ‘farm’. The Artist has painted for many well-known patrons in North Norfolk too, including The Deterding family at Kelling Hall Estate and still accepts local commissions that relate to his theme of work. In 2013 John received the patronage of Lady Leicester of Holkham who kindly wrote the foreword to his Norfolk Sketchbook and collected one of John's original watercolours.
John was commissioned to paint Easton College, Norwich as a retirement gift to David Lawrence who recently retired from his post as Principle. The drawings and studio completion were done in secret during October 2014 and John only met David as the painting was unveiled at a party on 25th June 2015 which was attended by many well known figures from East Anglia. John looks upon the commission as a great honour and wishes David a happy retirement.
John enjoys recording rural heritage, architecture, people and landscape for his many patrons, particularly those images that still remain within the confines of The Great Estates. He has successfully run ornithological sketchbook skills courses based at Salthouse and Cley NWT Reserve in which students drew birds on site and completed a watercolour after learning techniques during the day. John has a subtle technique, using both watercolour and gouache on tinted papers and was influenced by Thorburn, Turner, Forbes, Cotman and De Wint. The Newlyn and Norwich Schools with their 18th century style being so suitable for the accurate recording of the North Norfolk landscape have also been a great inspiration.
The Artist is a keen gardener, field sportsman and ornithologist who looks upon his residence on the Norfolk coast as ‘a privilege’.
2008 saw John returning to North Carolina to complete a series of new commissions for The World Methodist Council based in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He also accepted a year in residence at one of the great Norfolk estates in order to complete a ’book for the house’, comprising of fifty watercolours bound within one book, a true heritage piece for future generations. He received a national book proposal in 2009 which involved recording in watercolour the people and places of North Norfolk.This resulted in the acclaimed book 'Norfolk Coastal Colours', published by Halsgrove in 2010 and availiable from The Artist via this website.
In 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, whilst holding eight exhibitions each year, John also completed several major works for Scira Offshore Energy Ltd, including of studies showing the Sheringham Shoal Windfarm in construction. John has completed a series of sketches to form a sketchbook which was published in May 2013.The foreword of this book has been kindly written by Lady Leicester, Holkham.During the Autumn and Winter of 2014/15, John completed several major commissions, including a heritage book of watercolours based on Rosedale Moor, North Yorkshire for his lifelong friend, Liam Botham and the Tidal Transit Fleet, moored in Wells Outer harbour for Leo Hambro and associates.
In May 2015,'Black Country', the first book in the trilogy about the18th century US travelling preacher, Francis Astbury went to press. By kind invitation of the author, Al Filipo, based in Florida, John's illustration forms the book jacket and depicts nail workers in a Black Country foundary. John is currently working towards his 2015 solo shows. Please see the News Section for details of these exhibitions to which you are all welcome.