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Frederick J Haycock

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Horses and hounds and various other country sports pursuits subject matter is, arguably, what respected landscape and animal fine artist, Frederick J Haycock is best known for in art circles. Suffice to say, hunting, shooting, fishing and other gaming affairs of a distinctly rural canvas are comprehensively covered in Haycock’s hallmark compositions where the spirit and essence of the ‘hunt’ is never far removed from his cultured brushstrokes.

The thrill of the (oft controversial) hunt in full flow is at the heart of the majority of Haycock’s immensely detailed studies, so much so that followers of famous hunts such as the Atherstone, the Quorn and the Fernie may well recognise pieces of country, individual hounds, horses and possibly even a glimpse of themselves somewhere amid the frenetic scenes in a typical Haycock painting. Historically polarising opinion like few other rural-based issues, wherever you happen to stand on the hunting debate, there are few fine art lovers who wouldn’t rejoice at the quality of paintsmanship on show in a Haycock number, and even those who feel ambivalent or neutral about hunting itself will recognise the laboriously effort which goes into each piece.

Haycock was born and raised in Warwickshire in 1948, the county he still refers to as home today, and where he still resides with his family. On completion of his secondary education Haycock went on to study Illustration at, firstly, Nuneaton School of Art, followed by Coventry College of Art and Design thereafter. Haycock trained in Illustration during a time where he recalls budding artists were far more interested in abstract and modern styles, rather than traditional illustration which was perceived to be somewhat long in the tooth at this juncture.

Disillusioned might be too stronger word, however Haycock was miffed enough with this overbearing curriculum emphasis placed on more contemporary styles of illustration, that he apparently became disenfranchised with the higher educational approach to the area which interested him, and as such became an essentially self-taught artist, taking it upon himself to be inspired by the seminal works of artists at the vanguard of a more classical movement and time in what’s known as traditional illustration. Therefore leading exponents of their genres, such as Sir Alfred Munnings, Lionel Edwards and John Kenny were far more influential in Haycock’s illustrative education, than the teachings of his art school, from a retrospective standpoint, it’s fair to acknowledge.

On leaving college Haycock entered employment as a commercially-savvy Illustrator, an industry in which he made his own for the best part of two decades. Family responsibilities ensured that the security of technical illustration would meet the continual payment of household bills, so for nigh on 20 years Haycock’s talent and passion for painting lay dormant in a bottom drawer. Although this isn’t entirely true as Haycock never lost sight of what artistically made his heart content so to speak, and as such painted religiously in his spare time. As demand in his work increased, as a result of increased exposure, Haycock came to the decision to see if he could make his living from his art, and in 1982 began his professional painting career. On the back of his individual and collective works being showcased locally, Haycock received a host of private commissions, and a raft of these original compositions form part of private collections in Europe, America and even Japan.

His biggest impact was registered on the equestrian art scene, which happened pretty much overnight; and in that same year the emerging popularity of Haycock’s work was recognized when he scooped runners-up prize in the prestigious Horse and Hound Centenary Art Competition. Which, to anyone familiar with the equine and country pursuits scene will readily inform you, is akin to the Bible amongst this community. This award cemented Haycock’s arrival in a professional painting context still further. In 1984 Haycock repeated his feat of two years previously and claimed 2nd prize in The Horse and Hound Centenary Art Competition, on this occasion coming second to Leesa Sandys-Lumsdaine.

During the 1980s Haycock’s early works were published by Soloman Whitehead, one of the country’s foremost art publishing houses, who worked tirelessly with the artist to promote his work, and it’s now said that all of his initial limited edition prints completed in collaboration with them have been sold out in their entirety. Alas, with continued family responsibilities to uphold, combined with the advent of computer-based art, Haycock returned to technical illustration, and parted company with his then publisher.

In 2007 Haycock rekindled his interest in painting, and this time joined forces with one of the UK’s leading fine art publishers, Sally Mitchell Fine Arts, who in tandem with Haycock have produced the standard of work that has since won him an army of new admirers and two awards for Sporting Paintings from the Society of Equestrian Artists to mark his comeback in this arena. Recently Haycock is better known for these hunting scenes mentioned at the top and has already seen over twenty of his works published as Ltd Edition prints and in the Society Of Equestrian Artists exhibition, 2010 he won ‘Best Sporting Painting’ for the second time.