Mackenzie Thorpe

Always Warm in the Boro' by Mackenzie Thorpe
From Moor to Coast by Mackenzie Thorpe
Family Portrait by Mackenzie Thorpe
In My Dreams by Mackenzie Thorpe
Lets Go For A Walk by Mackenzie Thorpe
Faster and Faster by Mackenzie Thorpe
Lighting The Way by Mackenzie Thorpe
Always and Forever by Mackenzie Thorpe
A Perfect Day by Mackenzie Thorpe
Love for the World by Mackenzie Thorpe
Happiness by Mackenzie Thorpe
Hand in Hand by Mackenzie Thorpe
Bless your Heart by Mackenzie Thorpe
True Love by Mackenzie Thorpe
Like generations of North-Eastern men before him, Mackenzie Thorpe’s life was mapped out in advance. Birth, school, shipyards. Or steelworks. In that semblance of order. Being born and bred in Middlesbrough in 1956, it was a nap hand that a young Thorpe would follow in the footsteps of his family members on leaving education, which of course he did, and not buck that trend. Although because Thorpe had dyslexia, academia was always difficult, hence him finishing his studies at 15 without any formal qualifications. In Thorpe’s case though, his industrial dalliance was short-lived, as after a stint in the shipyard he decided to impulsively act on the advice of a friend who suggested that he should enrol at art school instead, in the aftermath of viewing Thorpe’s art work. His friend had clearly seen an aptitude and talent for art, which he believed would offer Thorpe an alternative direction in life which in that part of the country at that particular time, was in evident short supply.

So at the relatively young age of 21, Thorpe brought an end to his shipbuilding career and instead plotted the co-ordinates of a career more befitting of a man with his creative gift, and enrolled at his local college. Under the guidance of Tom Wall, Thorpe passed his foundation art course at Cleveland College of Art with gusto, and immediately leaving received an offer of a place on another, higher level art course; this time at the Byam Shaw College of Art in London. The UK’s cosmopolitan and cultural capital city was a world apart from his native North East, and aside from anything else put Thorpe within touching distance of a host of art galleries and museums for the first time in his life.

Thorpe opted to remain in London on graduating in 1982, where he dedicated his time to helping disadvantaged children, before making the move back to his homeland with his own young family in tow, in 1989. Although not quite, geographically home as such, instead settling his own family in Richmond in North Yorkshire when the time came. It was here that Thorpe opened his own gallery situated in the town – called Arthaus – which is still a thriving business today to the best of our knowledge. However at first times where hard, and Thorpe battled with fiscal restraints whilst setting up his studio in Richmond. He believes his trademark square sheep were subconsciously projecting the artist’s fight against hardship and society norms during that period of trying to establish himself, and places these works almost in a self-portrait category.

Thorpe’s body of work falls into the two, very different, very distinctive, artistic camps. Both in terms of style and the substance lying just behind the pieces themselves. On one hand the artist creates deeply intimate, affectionate portrayals of the joys of life, as depicted by children and happy families, all land-locked by a constant stream of love, whilst on the other, Thorpe he champions and often grimly documents the working class struggle in England’s dark and disturbing North. The use and application betwixt the two warring factions, borders on schizophrenic to the untrained eye, yet the conjoining twin is passion. Passion and honesty course through both genres with real zeal. There’s’ also a certain degree of naivety in Thorpe’s work, which leads art critics and lovers alike to paint the predictable parallels with Lowry. With the former of his studies, Thorpe conveys exaggerated smiley faces hewn onto the faces of kids and animals, which tells us his mood barometer is on the rise, whilst the latter visual references toward red brick council estate Britain, smoking industrial chimneys and brooding skylines scarred by steelworks are more a background vista than a social or political comment.

Thorpe has exhibited his work far and wide, including hosting his own one man shows at The Pump House, Birmingham Museum in 2000, Atlas Galleries, Chicago, Illinois 1999, Hanson Gallery, Carmel, California 1998, Kenneth Behm Galleries, Seattle, Washington 1998 and the Halcyon Gallery, Birmingham 1998, 1995. He has shared big stages with other contemporary artists too, seeing his work showcased at Artexpo, New York 1997, 1998, 1999, CMF Gallery, New York 1999, Tressors Art Fair, Singapore 1997 and at Artexpo, Los Angeles 1996.

Thorpe’s work remains in much demand, and his abstract works of art have collated a number of awards over the years, including his ‘Best-Selling Published Artist’ award picked up in 2000 from the Fine Art Trade Guild-hosted Art and Framing Industry Awards. Elsewhere, and Thorpe was invited to design the official Christmas cards for the then Conservative politician and party leader, William Hague, whose constituency was located in Richmond, whilst the artist also received commissions to originate holiday card designs for the Elton John AIDS foundation and a selection of prints for the British Dyslexia Foundation. Furthermore, the Mackenzie Thorpe Foundation was launched in 2005 with a remit to support worthy causes. In addition, Thorpe was also the recipient of an honouree Master of Art degree, awarded by his hometown’s Teesside University. Perversely however, the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) have consistently failed to recognize Thorpe’s creative achievements to date.

View All Art Works By Mackenzie Thorpe