Mackenzie Thorpe – one of the country’s most celebrated and sought after living artists

In the early 1990s, Mackenzie Thorpe set the art world alight and that flame is still burning as brightly as ever. A global art phenomenon, he has reached out across every conceivable boundary by drawing on the universal themes that unite us all – love and isolation, life and death, joy and sorrow, despair and hope.

Mackenzie is credited with changing the face of art publishing in the UK and he has created one of the most recognisable and acclaimed oeuvres in contemporary art. His considerable following includes the author JK Rowling and HM Queen Elizabeth II and his original paintings, published works and sculpture are held in private and corporate collections across the globe. His collectors come from all walks of life and include famous names from the worlds of sport, music, film, politics and royalty. He has also undertaken many prestigious commissions for clients ranging from the Andre Agassi Foundation and the Elton John Aids Foundation to Princess Anne and William Hague.

His journey from dyslexic child ostracised by his peers to international artist exhibiting worldwide has been both extraordinary and inspirational. Born in 1956, the eldest of seven children, his early years were spent in a small terraced house in the town centre of Middlesborough, struggling through school with an undiagnosed learning difficulty and doing manual work in the local shipyard by the age of 15. Mackenzie defied the expectations of society with a combination of pioneering style and unbridled passion.

His early formative years were spent playing in and around the streets and back alleys of terraced houses. Derelict bombed out properties provided an exciting playground for Mackenzie and his uncle Lawrence – three years older and a protective, guiding influence in Mackenzie’s life.

Mackenzie’s father worked as a labourer and his mother an auxiliary nurse. Life for the Thorpe family was no different to that of most of their community – at times a struggle.

Mackenzie acknowledges mixed emotions about this period in his life. He remembers the strong feeling of community spirit, the strength of individual characters, the warmth and humour that flourished in the face of adversity, in the most unlikely of settings. He has also not forgotten the loneliness and isolation, the fear and the darkness that was ever present, waiting it seemed in every shadow. The vivid reality of these barely faded memories is apparent in some of Mackenzie’s works.

The need and compulsion to draw was obvious from an early age, he would seek out and create with whatever raw materials he could find. Life for most people was about struggle and survival. Mackenzie’s driving force was always to draw. He did not, could not, question this need.

Mackenzie is one of those rare artists who are completely inseparable from their work. His restless energy and his passionate concern for humanity are as evident in his free-wheeling conversation as in his paintings and drawings.

Whether he is depicting one of his notorious ‘square sheep’, a group of burly men hunched over their dominoes in a smoky pub or a fantasy Wild West shoot-out, his work speaks to you as decisively and compellingly as if he had slapped you on the shoulder. There is no pretension, no aloofness, just the urge to explore and communicate a deeply felt emotion.

Howarth Gallery in Burnley, Lancashire, is proud to have been selected as one of the few UK galleries able to work directly with Mackenzie and showcase his highly collectable collection of prints, sculptures and originals. If you are an existing collector or would like to own your very first piece by Mackenzie, please do call into our gallery or visit us online where there is a 20 minute video previewing some of Mackenzie’s work.

Howarth Gallery
134-138 St James Street, Burnley BB11 1NR
01282 416079



Tedd Walmsley

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