A LEADING figure in British art has opened an exhibition at Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC).

John Sprakes, whose work has featured in popular television shows such as Absolutely Fabulous and Inspector Morse, is exhibiting original pieces, depicting his journey from the figurative to the derivative and finally into abstraction, at PAC until Saturday, January 4.

John, who lives near Beverley, has likened his artistic development to that of a long train journey, and one that he is still aboard.

“There have been many stops along the way; diversions into sidings, several unexpected delays, changes to the timetable and hitting the buffers,” he said.

“Throughout my artistic journey however, there has been constant progress and many changes have taken place.

John’s passion for art began in childhood, bringing him comfort during periods of ill health and passing the time in the family air raid shelter during the bombing raids of World War Two.

“Drawing was my constant solace”, said John who would spend weeks at a time bed bound with chronic bouts of asthma.

The ongoing cost of drawing materials during rationing required some resourcefulness - his father brought home un-used receipt books, stocks of charcoal were replenished from the bonfire after Guy Fawke’s Night, and his mother would iron the dark brown and blue sugar paper wrapped around groceries to provide a supply of coloured paper.

From such humble beginnings, a future critically acclaimed artist was born.

Despite a secondary school careers adviser trying to push him into industrial work, John went on to study at Doncaster School of Art before winning a scholarship to Edinburgh College of Art.

“Being tutored by some of the most prominent painters in Scotland enabled me to broaden my horizons. William Gillies, Robin Philipson, William McTaggart, John Maxwell, Ian Hunter, Robert Lyon and Alan Clarke were a constant source of inspiration to me throughout my years as a student,” he said.

He went on to secure a post-graduate scholarship, giving him more creative freedom than ever before, with the only requirement being to create a final collection of work to a high standard. He earned a commendation.

John has gone on to exhibit at numerous prestigious venues across the UK including London’s Royal Academy, and the Mall Galleries.

John’s book ‘Journey Into Abstraction’ is out now. Speckled with inspirational poetry and music, the book offers a fascinating insight into John’s life and work, his personal and professional journey, embodied in a handpicked portfolio of extraordinary work.

For more information go to www.pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk or call the box office on 01759 301547.