Tribute To Artist Harry Snook
by Mary Hooper
Harry Snook, a much admired artist and well loved friend to many, died peacefully on Tuesday December 6th.
Harry worked prolifically in different media – painting, construction, printmaking, collage and more recently photography. His constant and countless sketch books are filled with his personal vocabulary of shapes, textures and images which create a complete language like a musical score. There is for me a synesthesia between colour, sound and movement in his work.
I was lucky enough to work with him as an assistant a couple of years ago, helping him complete a series of collages for an exhibition at the Arts Forum in Hastings. I saw how he used his innate sense of composition, manipulating colour, form and shape, to create work that might sing out with a hot flourish of passion and joy, or delicate, tender and secret whispers.
His skill as a draughtsman and printmaker was combined with the creative imagery of a ‘visionary’; his works containing clues and signs to stories and mysteries.
Not widely broadcast is that Harry was a master of Limerick and the dreadful pun, which were sprung like traps upon the unwitting or witless without warning or apology.
Here is a quote from Harry taken from ‘The Hasting Rarities Affair Catalogue – ‘The Lost Ledger’
‘There were always birds. Chickens and geese on my Uncle Emrys’ farm, and the marshes and the woodlands surrounding the farm in Wales provided habitat in abundance for woodpeckers, herons and the rest, whose nest we plundered mercilessly (in ignorance). At school I couldn’t believe my luck when a classmate showed me how to draw a bird in flight by putting 2 curved lines together. Since then birds have regularly found their way into my practice and held their position as suppliers of imagery.’
Harry was an inspiring and loving friend, a privilege to know and work alongside him.
Since Harry’s retirement as a senior lecturer at UCE Birmingham, he moved to France, and there created a prizewinning garden from a strip of wasteland. He was concerned at our collective failure to find a fruitful balance between technology and natural systems, but had faith that our children will make better custodians of nature.
Harry exhibited in the UK, USA, Hong Kong, Holland, France and Germany, and was awarded Fellowships to American Institutions.
Exhibitions include: The Whitechapel, Serpentine and Curwen Galleries in London, the Icon Gallery in Birmingham and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
Work in collections include the Arts Council of Great Britain, Victoria and Albert Museum, Union Bank of Switzerland, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, Finer Weston Associates France, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Arthur Anderson and Co, Coca Cola, Mercksharp and Dohm and private collects in the UK and abroad.