About John

John was born in 1950 in East Africa. Following his parents’ separation, John and his younger brother Errol stayed with their father Edward (Ginger). The three of them returned to England in 1959. In 1960, Ginger asked the 9-year-old boy to contribute illustrations for his forthcoming book entitled “The Map Approach To World Exploration”. The drawings by the young boy are a testament to his talent, even at such a young age.

From: E. R. Vere-Hodge, "The Map Approach To World Exploration", University Tutorial Press Ltd (1964)
Man (1966) - Biro on paper

In 1961, Edward, Errol and John moved to New Zealand. Upon their return to England in late 1963, John attended the art classes of the Royal Academician Maurice Percival. Percival took a keen interest in John’s talent, although he betrayed his frustration with young John “jumping the gun”. He often complained that “you are an absolute dog, Vere-Hodge. What a dog.”

In 1964, the boys’ father tragically died and although John was soon admitted to Chelsea School of Art, personal circumstances conspired against continuing full-time education in the late 1960s. In 1967, John trained as a wood carver, restorer and cabinet maker instead. Some of the artist’s dexterity in relation to three-dimensional works, Venetian Paperwork and wood carvings, were no doubt honed during this time.

Workshop at Bolsoms on Pavilion Road (1970) - Guache on Paper
Magic Swansong (1979) - Egg tempera on cardboard

In 1968, the young artist exhibited oil paintings at an exhibition at Hastings Studio 7. He became part of the Portobello scene and restored numerous antiques for dealers, collectors and museums alike. Between 1969 and 1972, he was a member of the “Chelsea Painters” and exhibited several times at Chelsea Town Hall.

In the mid-1970s, a freak accident led John to travel to Germany for the first time: a lorry driver tasked with consigning artworks from London to Munich chose to take a short-cut and drove the lorry under a bridge that was too low. A local art dealer from Munich who had frequented the Portobello scene contacted John.

Shortly thereafter, John moved to Germany. He attended a private art academy in Munich Schwabing and continued to work as an artist and restorer.

In 1980, tragedy struck again: John’s brother Errol was one of 12 innocent victims at the Oktoberfest terrorist bomb attack. A number of subsequent works deal with coming to terms with this terrible event. Nonetheless, his productivity decreased markedly in the early 1980s as a result of the shock.

Throughout the early 1990s, his artistic output remained significantly (s)lower than before the Oktoberfest bomb attack. He moved away from painting for a number of years and mostly produced drawings and illustrations.

Labyrinth Of Life (1999) - Ink on Paper
Scene in Amsterdam (2018) - Oil on Canvas

Towards the late 1990s, he once again focused on painting and his output became increasingly more prolific. In particular, he began to paint in oil on canvas or panel, using his profound technical knowledge of Old Masterly processes and technique. In addition, John developed his own reinterpretation of Venetian Paperwork – transforming the old technique into a colourful, slightly tongue-in-cheek version of three-dimensional Pop Art.

Bust (2008) - Venetian paperwork