The passing of the great Patrick Woodroffe (1940 – 2014)

hortusconclusus_woodroffe1

Patrick Woodroffe was born in Halifax in the north of England in 1940 and by the age of six he was already drawing enthusiastically.  The Patrick Woodroffe painting shown above is actually a massive great painting and this little image can only give you a tiny taste of its amazing grandeur.

Strangely, for a professional artist he was self-taught, a graduate not in fine art but in the French and German languages. The European tradition of fantastic realism, both medieval (Grunewald, Bosch etc.), and modem (Dali, Hausner, Fuchs etc.), gave Patrick Woodroffe his first real ambition: to paint into existence a world that had hitherto existed only within his own fertile imagination.  He left the teaching profession in 1972, the year schools went comprehensive and he never looked back, illustrating within a period of three years almost one hundred book-jackets and record sleeves.

Patrick Woodroffe collaborated with several bands and solo musicians including Dave Greenslade (the retelling of the Pentateuch which is also available as the book ‘Second Earth’), Phil Collins, Judas Priest, Budgie, Mike Batt, The Strawbs, Mike Oldfield, Pallas and Didier Blons.  Several highly successful exhibitions in London led in turn to a series of equally well-received books, for which he provided both text and images (‘Hallelujah Anyway’, ‘Mythopoeikon’ etc).  In 1989 Patrick Woodroffe was brought in as creature concept designer for the motion picture ‘The Never-Ending Story’ and then ‘The Never-Ending Story II’ (TV series).

He undertook general design work for ‘Conte du futur’ (film project) and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (stage production, France etc.). He was always in demand for similar projects, some of them based on his own books. Convinced however, that the most beautiful films come not from books but from ideas that only the cinema can bring to life, Patrick Woodroffe started promoting original film projects of his own.  These included:- Design and TV adaptation: ‘The Dorbott of Vacuo’. Screenplay and concept: ‘Your Place or Mine?’ Screenplay and concept: ‘Coloured Lights’. Stage Musical Adaptation: ‘Hallelujah Anyway’ (English and French versions). Stage play (English & French texts): ‘Victoria’s Magical Bed’.  Musical Comedy (Design + French text only): ‘Le roi de Ia plage’.

Patrick Woodroffe worked not only in the fields of sculpture (‘Le bouclier de Mars’ and “Le bouclier de Venus” — Gruyères Castle, Switzerland) and painting (a series of classic Patrick Woodroffe pictures intended for a major show), but also on a project referred to as ‘Le prisonnier de Gruyères’, a small permanent exhibition in collaboration with Ilford AG forming the basis of a cultural link between Gruyères and Falmouth, Cornwall, a sort of twinning of the two castles.  The next tour of Patrick Woodroffe’s highly popular travelling exhibition ‘Pastures in the Sky’ followed in the years 2000-2001.

Patrick Woodroffe lived the latter part of his life on the south coast of England with his wife Jean who you would recognize as being the only female model he has ever used for his paintings.  They met in their teens and married and were together ever since. Sadly in his later years Patrick developed marked aphasia and lost his ability to speak all the languages he spoke so well (French, German and Spanish) as well as finally his own mother tongue English.  Up until early 2013 he was still painting and drawing although his style had changed quite significantly.  He died on 10th  May 2014.  Patrick Woodroffe was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable and talented artists of all time and his work could easily stand alongsid anything in the major galleries.  Hopefully, one day, it will.  To see more of his amazing artwork click here.