James Gillick Inspires Students at Thomas More College.
Aspiring artists are 10 a penny. Successful artists are rare; successful Catholic artists who succeed in secular markets and can articulate clearly the basis of their success are rarer still. So when you get a chance to talk to one who does well enough that he can afford to pay four apprentices a year to work in his studio he is worth listening to; especially when he is an eloquent speaker and understands the basis of his success.
On 22st January, Englishman James Gillick, one of the UK’s most successful artists and a Catholic came to Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and spoke about his faith and his approach to business and working in a secular world. Speaking to a packed Helm Room, his talk was impassioned and inspiring. When he finished students gathered around asking for advice to help them as they step out in the next phase of their lives.
He began by passing on good wishes from his most recent apprentice – former TMC student Jacqueline del Curto to her friends in the audience. Then he began his talk. He is the son of Victoria Gillick, whom Britons of my generation (I am 51) will remember as the Catholic who in the 1980s took the British government all the way to the highest court, the Law Lords, to try to overturn a law which allowed doctors to prescribe he contraceptive pill to girls under 16 without informing their parents (ultimately the government won). He spoke of this and what a profound effect it had on him as a boy watching the treatment of his mother and her resolve in the face of it – hostility from the government, from feminists, from from the newspapers and television and the resulting abandonment of friends; and how this gave him a sense of a mission as a Catholic that could be translated even into the work of an artist.
In regard to his own work he spoke first of the apparent hopelessness of the situation facing Catholics today. We have an aggressively anti-Catholic, materialist society in the which leading figures are the very wealthy devoted to getting more. These are the people that he must win over in order to sell his paintings. He told us of the process whereby he carefully worked out what sorts of paintings would appeal to these people. (Read More)