Exhibition statement (490 words) 3.5.2018
I’ve been a sketcher for years. It started with a really bad back during my last term at school - a slipped disc, which required me to spend three months lying on my tummy in bed – and in that year’s family summer holiday I wasn’t allowed to play tennis or golf, or even to walk much: what to do ?
My father (Dr Robert Hadden, a GP in Portadown) had painted a bit in his youth. He unearthed his ancient set of oil paints, and so I started art instead of sport. It wasn’t long before I switched to watercolours: not so sticky or smelly, and much lighter to carry around.
I didn’t go to art college, but I did take every chance I could to join in evening classes etc. Working for over 30 years with the John Lewis Partnership in central London, I was lucky enough to tenjoy some wonderful holiday courses run by the Royal Watercolour Society. As I only had time for art in the holidays – not like my patchwork or crochet projects, which could be fitted into winter evenings – I mostly sketched my holiday scenes. At first I took quite a few photographs too, to capture a ‘true record’ for copying at home; but later I realised that the sketch itself is the record, and can show so much more of the spirit of the place and the day than any photograph.
Years later, in 1985, I qualified for the Partnership’s Long Service Leave – and spent a happy six months travelling round the world, with two sketchbooks and the smallest possible set of gear - including this time a folding stool, which enables you to sketch in comfort anywhere (no easel needed, just your knees).
Eventually I retired and came home to Portadown, where I’ve been glad to play a part in two local art clubs – the Armagh Art Club, where for 17 years I was Treasurer, and the Portadown Visual Arts Society, based here at Millennium Court, for all of whose 20 years I was Secretary. There was time then for some ‘proper’ paintings to show in Club exhibitions, and some of those have sold, which is always a thrill - but I still love sketching best.