Hideyuki Sobue

Although it has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 crisis, 2020 is another important year for the English Lake District. It is the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth's birth and the centenary of Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley's death.

The former is the well-known Romantic Poet Laureate, and the latter an Anglican priest and one of the three founders of the National Trust, who inspired Beatrix Potter with regard to the importance of conservation.

On her death, Potter bequeathed nearly all her property to the National Trust, including over 4,000 acres of land, sixteen farms, cottages and herds of cattle and Herdwick sheep.

It is commonly agreed that Wordsworth was one of the earliest environmental activists working to preserve the natural beauty of the English Lake District.

Hardwicke Rawnsley was born a year after the death of Wordsworth and appears to have inherited the passion of the poet.

These two men championed the conservation of natural beauty in the Lake District and beyond. Their voices echo all the more in our contemporary society.

For celebrating this commemorative year, I have launched my new art project "Wordsworth, Hardwicke and Lake District", which is again supported by Arts Council England.
I am producing two portraits of each figure in the double-vision style, which proved a success during my previous art project "Conversation with Ruskin".

I will portray Hardwicke Rawnsley when he first met the young Beatrix Potter at Wray in 1882 while he was working as a vicar of the St Margaret of Antioch parish church in Wray Castle, passionately talking to her about the importance of conservation.

At the same time, William Wordsworth in his late 20s when he and his sister Dorothy settled at Dove Cottage. This event coincided around when Wordsworth started to write his autobiographical poem "The Prelude".

Following the same concept of the portrait of John Ruskin entitled "Conversation with Ruskin (Ecce Homo)", which I produced for my touring solo art project "Conversation with Ruskin", I will portray these historical figures in a horizontal double-vision image.

By carefully determining the distance between the two images, I will promote a visual illusion so that each portrait can be seen as a single image in another dimension, emerging from the surface of the supports.

It is a paradoxical approach, achieved by stimulating a visual illusion. However, it is designed to amplify the mystery of human existence by raising questions about the distance between the visible and invisible, physical and spiritual; abstract concepts that only belong to humanity.
In this way, I attempt to create a platform of conversation regarding whether our mind, soul and spirit exist, or are in fact nothing but multi-complex chemical processes in our brain, a question raised by the era of Artificial Intelligence.

I will portray them as the spiritual guardians of Lakeland and beyond in a period of ecological and existential crisis.

I will produce two portraits and two drawings, depicting them with contrary lighting conditions, so as to create the installation to look as if the light projects and radiates out from the centre above the artworks.

With the assistance of the Arts Council England Emergency Response Fund, I am determined to complete these works (apart from the drawings) with my unique brush hatching technique using Japanese sumi ink and acrylic, which I created and have developed over the past 15 years.

It is inspired by the concept of designo, which was established in the Florentine School during the Renaissance, combined with neurological studies, which reveal that the human visual brain perceives objects predominantly by oriented lines.

I will complete all works with the gold background using acrylic gold paint inspired by the Japanese traditional painting style, such as Fusuma-e (sliding door painting) and Byōbu-e (folding screen painting) for exploring my cultural roots.

Thusly I will pay homage to these important historical figures of the Lake District, in a way that is appropriate to their memory, despite, or even because of these challenging times.