David Hancock
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New Work
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The Down, Watercolour on Paper, 150 x 170cm, 2013


I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a BA in fine art in 1996 and went on to complete an MA in Fine Art and John Moores University, Liverpool in 2010. I have exhibited throughout England, as well as Europe, America, and China, highlights of which include the John Moores painting Prize in 1999 and the BP Portrait Prize in 2000 & 2001. Young Masters in 2005. The Future Can Wait in 2007 & 2008, and the New London School at Mark Moore Gallery in LA in 2008. More recently, I had a solo exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery in 2013. I am currently studying for a doctorate at the University of Salford.

I work predominantly in watercolour on large sheets of heavy weight hot pressed handmade paper. The work is presented in deep white frames to allow the paper to ripple under the Perspex and highlight the torn edges.

For the past few years my work has focused upon the cosplay subculture. Cosplayers are usually young people who dress up and role-play characters from computer games and Japanese Manga comics. They interact with each other face to face, on social media, and websites centred on cosplay activities. They meticulously recreate every detail of a character's appearance, constructing fantastical costumes and even taking on personality traits. I am interested in the gap between the real and imagined world experienced by those who engage in this form of escapism. Taking their characters into the urban landscape they use their imagination to transform their surroundings. The presentation of the figures, largely on a plain white background, reinforces the fact that as viewers we are not party to their individual fantasies. We inhabit the same landscape but we are unable to penetrate the cosplayers' private world, only envisaging small aspects of it. In the cosplayers' world the everyday objects can be shifted into something full of meaning and significance, and certain landmarks can fluctuate between the real and the imagined. As with the constructed digital universe the imagination of the individual has the ability to transform the mundane into the sublime.

The portraits are intentionally real. They not only capture the personalities of the Cosplayers but also present the details of their costumes. In effect these are double portraits of the sitter and their alter ego, with two personalities being represented simultaneously. Their interpretations are subjective and each Cosplayer representing the same character presents an entirely unique vision based on their individual choices.