RepositoryFalmouth University (GB 3241)
Ref NoFCP2
Datec1948-2007
LevelCollection
Extent24 Boxes / 9.12 Linear metres
TitleFrancis Hewlett Archive - cataloguing in process please contact: archives@fxplus.ac.uk
DescriptionThe collection includes:

Correspondence with:
- George Sweet
- Bob Organ
- Lionel Miskin
- Peter Nichols
- Quentin Williams
- Michael Finn
- Robert Hurdle
- Christopher Logue
- Michael and Madeline Canney
- Peter and Beryl Markey
- Lady Gloria Dale concerning large scale ceramics.
- Tom Stoppard concerning commissions
- concerning Gregynog Fellowship.
- concerning various shows, exhibitions, retrospectives and various private correspondence.
- The Royal Academy and the Royal West of England Academy.

- Sketchbooks, notebooks and folders dating from 1948 - 2007, containing watercolours, drawings, sketches and ideas.
- Notebooks with writing and sketches from hitchhike travels in Italy c1955.
- Sketchbooks containing pen and ink sketches and watercolours of children and preparation for ceramics.
- Sketchbooks for Empire theatre and Paris paintings, including Notre Dame.
- Sketchbook 1993-1999, containing ink drawings and pencil sketches of Indonesia, Bali, Wells cathedral, view from attic window. Piece of writing on his own work and how his family background influenced his work.
- File containing correspondence, booklets and invitations from the Newlyn Society of Artists.
- Photographs and slides of ceramics, both large and small scale, including: Big Hand Stoneware, Bra on Torso, Inflatable String Vest, Gloves, Brogues, West Country Baggage.
- Photographs and slides of drawings and paintings. Including still lifes, landscapes, portraits, self-portraits. Including Gregynog watercolours, sketches of Falmouth and Penwerris Terrace, family portraits, drawings of travels.
- Scrapbooks containing newscuttings 1971-2009.
- Exhibition materials, posters, catalogues, lists of items for shows.
Admin HistoryFrancis Hewlett (1930 - 2012) was born on the 26th of September in Bristol, the fourth of five Children to Harry and Win Hewlett. Hewlett developed a passion for art at an early age obsessively drawing from the magazines and comics he found at home. He attended St Simon's Junior School in Bristol before gaining a scholarship to Fairfield School. Hewlett was a hardworking and diligent pupil, traits allowing him to succeed at many subjects even those to which he had less natural ability. From a working class background there was family pressure after Hewlett successfully obtained his school certificate to get a steady job and earn a wage. Hewlett was however, determined to go to art school and set up a makeshift studio in an outhouse and continued to draw. His persistence paid off when at the age of 18 in 1948 he was awarded a bursary and began studying at the West of England College of Arts.

Associated with Royal West of England Academy the College had an excellent reputation and the 3 years Hewlett spent there proved to be hugely formative in terms of his artistic career. Under the tutelage of George Sweet a contemporary and friend of William Coldstream and Claude Rodgers (who would later teach Hewlett at the Slade School of School of Art) Hewlett learned the fundamentals of observational drawing. Sweet's belief that good drawing was the foundation of good art, initiated a meticulous grounding in drawing with students expected to produce highly accurate and precise work. Hewlett would often get up early to complete several hours of sketching practice before class and spent many of his evenings exploring Bristol with his sketchbook. The Bristol Empire, a nineteenth century music hall was a particular obsession and Hewlett spent many hours making studies of its architecture, actors, audiences and musicians. Hewlett's disciplined approach to drawing proved successful with work selected for the Annual Exhibition of Young Contemporaries in London in 1952. And despite changing trends in world of art towards abstraction and expressionism, the quality of Hewlett's observational work would remained a strength and skill that was constant throughout his artistic career. Sweet would became a lifelong friend, as would many of the other artists Hewlett met through his studies at this time, including fellow student Elizabeth (Liz) Allen who would later marry on the 5th of December 1953.

In 1952 Hewlett won a scholarship to the Slade School of Art, London. Shortly afterwards he also won first prize in a promotional competition for the MGM film "An American in Paris". The prize allowed Hewlett a year's study in Paris and the Slade School held his place open while he enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux Arts. In Paris he drew extensively around the Ile Saint-Louis with the Cathedral of Notre Dame replacing the Empire Theatre as his obsession. On his return he continued his studies at the Slade School of Art where William Coldstream was his Professor and Claude Rogers was his tutor. Among his fellow students were Bob Organ, Philip Sutton, Quentin Williams and Euan Uglow. Again, many of these friendships would prove enduring, with Hewlett working alongside, exhibiting with and writing to, many of them over the coming years. A particular strength of this Collection is the correspondence, which documents the networks and ongoing relationships between Hewlett and his contemporaries over the years.

After completing his Slade Diploma, the Hewletts spent time travelling across Europe. Having deferred his National Service, Hewlett faced a tribunal where he gained exemption as a conscientious objector (he remained a committed pacifist throughout his life). In lieu of 2 years National Service, Hewlett and Liz found work with the charity International Help for Children, created to support underprivileged children effected by war. The couple worked at Little Pond House at Tilford which was owned by the charity, teaching children drawing and painting.
Hewlett had always drawn family, friends and himself and during his time at Little Pond House made many drawings of the Children staying there. The resultant series of pencil drawings, simply titled with the Childs's forename capture the expressions and character of these individuals with great sensitivity.

After the tenure with the charity ended, the couple were looking for jobs and saw potential opportunities in Cornwall. Cornwall had gained a reputation as an artist colony with communities in both Newlyn and St Ives and also had an established art school in Falmouth. Hewlett initially took a position teaching at a local grammar school and Liz worked as a life model as there were no immediately suitable vacancies. A position became available at Falmouth School of Art in 1960 and Principal Michael Finn made Hewlett Head of Painting. This was a difficult year in the School's history, with threatened closure due to the required reforms outlined in The Coldstream Report, which sought to formalise teaching of the arts by introducing a new Diploma in Art & Design. Hewlett was a staunch advocate for the School, greatly helping it to fight off closure and achieve National Degree Status in 1965. Staff including Hewlett were also encouraged to continue their own artistic practice in tandem with teaching as an example to the Students.

Settled in Cornwall the couple went on to have three children Mark, Claire and Francesca. The family lived at Penwerris Terrace Falmouth, with Hewlett setting up a studio in the attic. The views from the attic window of everyday life on the Fal Estuary proved a constant source of inspiration as did the interiors of the family home, the garden and members of his family. Hewlett's artist's eye constantly found beauty in the everyday, whether it be an old armchair, the light cast on moored boats or the expression or repose of a family member in conversation elevating and illuminating them with the stroke of his pencil or brush. This work would also feed a new direction in his work at the end of the 1960s. His interest in Ceramics once a hobby had grown into something more, with Hewlett becoming a prolific sculptor in this medium. This technically challenging work took aspects of anatomy, clothes and accessories and transformed them by turning them into large scale ceramics. Although still highly observational in style, the work was a departure for Hewlett with an underlying humour and whimsy not expressed before. The pressures and intensity of teaching at Falmouth alongside his own artistic practice eventually began to take a toll on Hewlett's health and he decided to take a sabbatical, applying for a fellowship at Gregynog Hall a centre of arts in Wales. He was appointed Gregynog Art Fellow in 1977. Whilst living and working in Wales for a year he discovered a fresh impetus and he began to paint again, resulting in a successful touring exhibition of paintings and drawings.

After two decades and continued health concerns Hewlett decided to move in a different direction and retired from Falmouth School of Art in 1981. Hewlett was now able to organise his time in a new way, balancing time in his studio and time his with his family. Although much of his painting at this time featured the locality of Falmouth Hewlett would return to his work on the Bristol Empire and Notre Dame from 1950s. His detailed sketches from this time proved invaluable when creating large and detailed paintings decades later. This work was later exhibited in successful shows at Browse & Darby's London Gallery in the 1990s.

Hewlett's health began to effect his artistic practice in later years. Signs of vascular dementia now further added to his ongoing battle with Crohn's Disease and he would suffer a stroke in 2009. Hewlett died on the 22nd of February 2012.


References:
Pery, J. (2014) The Art and Life of Francis Hewlett: Impassioned Observer, Halstar Press.
Carey, S. (2013) Art Masters: Francis Hewlett, Lionel Miskin, Falmouth Art Gallery.
The Guardian (2012) Francis Hewlett obituary [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/mar/19/francis-hewlett
Cornwall Artists Index. CAI Francis Hewlett [Online]. Available at
https://cornwallartists.org/cornwall-artists/francis-hewlett
LanguageEnglish
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialFalmouth Art Gallery Holdings.
Theatre Archive at Bristol University
Access ConditionsOpen, except for those records subject to Data Protection Legislation.
Finding_AidsFull box lists available.
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