A student at the Central School during the seventies, later assisting internationally revered artist Bridget Riley between 1974 -1986, Vicky Hawkins' early work focuses on the Abstract. Her abstract, unimpeded flow of rich colour clearly delineates Hawkins' early obsessions with spectacle and storytelling in art – two themes that consequently go on to imbue her entire career. During the early eighties, Hawkins' work gradually takes on more figurative references, but a growing obsession with ritual and primitive cultures where materials are often reused and recycled to create powerful costumes and art soon start to dominate her work.
Born in Bow, raised in the Isle of Dogs and the daughter of a Docker, East London has permeated Hawkins' artwork in all that she has created, as if the Thames itself had been her very lifeblood and throughout the late eighties and nineties, this analogy could not have been stronger. Alluding to the primitive societies that she had become so transfixed by, Hawkins' became adept at reusing the materials in her own community and started trawling the river’s foreshore for flotsam and jetsam, that she later transformed into spectacular paintings, bespoke jewellery, costumes, tapestries, wall-hangings, sets and sculptures, devising a unique style and body of work that press, clients and galleries alike, largely recognise to be the very colour and bustle of life in London’s East End immortalised artistically.
The last decade has seen Hawkins' delve into text-based pieces and books, which are immensely decorative aesthetically, but also serves to dispel proud or haughty themes, usually from the Artist’s own childhood. In particular, the “Memento Mori” series insists on re aligning perceptions of our own mortality and is characteristic of Hawkins' relentless artistic-evaluations of the past, continual embracing of the present and tireless challenging of the future that we see repeatedly in her work.
From "The Alpha Girls", was born the sinister and playful, grotesquely comic "Mutant Babies", crafted in the same way, these happily wounded, Shamanic creatures often lacking serious body parts, soon became the next artistic conduit to Hawkins' melancholic charm. A collection that has now enjoyed global recognition spearheaded by support from globally respected artist Richard Wilson, who chose the "Mutant Babies" film to appear alongside a series of film pieces at the RA's Summer Show - a first for the genre to be included in this way.
The Song of Solomon" and other songs and poems that deal with life and death, continue to be a growing fascination for Hawkins' practice - the most recent being text based pieces bursting with colour and abstract gestural marking, reminding us all how to live life to the full.
A recent Studio move to The Propeller Foundry in London, has heralded a renaissance in Hawkins' art, including a return to working with objects found on the Thames Shoreline and ephemera picked-up from London streets.