For years, Hillsdale College has held Winston Churchill as an embodiment of liberty and justice, and now it honors him with a series of photographs and drawings, located in Mossey Library, the Dow Hotel, and the Searle Center.
“We wanted it to be some place on campus for permanent display, and since we have been doing renovations and redecorating in the Dow Center, we thought it was the perfect place to utilize those pieces,” Associate Dean of Women Rebekah Dell, who is in charge of the decor, said. As for the library and the Searle Center, she said they had more pieces than they did space.
The Churchill Project worked with Canadian lawyer Norman Bascal, who gifted the display to the college. The artist, Curtis Hooper, used to be one of his clients, and Bacal wanted to donate his works to a place where they would be used and not sent to storage.
“He called us and said that he and one of his partners were in possession of a highly unique set of drawings done by an English artist, Curtis Hooper,” Churchill Project coordinator Soren Geiger said. “We talked with them, and they fairly quickly decided that Hillsdale College would be the best place for this collection, and we accepted that with gratitude and enthusiasm.”
There are 28 pieces in the series, which is titled “A Visual Philosophy of Winston Churchill.” Hooper had coordinated with Churchill’s daughter Sarah in the 1970s to find and use famous photos and quotes either spoken or written by Churchill on which he based his artwork. The title of each piece is a short quote from Churchill.
“You can kind of understand from that title that his goal was to show you, with these 28 drawings together, a complete picture of the very complex man whose career spanned 5 decades and who lived until he was 90 years,” Geiger said. “ [He was a] statesman and an orator, but you will also see him as a soldier and a very old man. You will see him as a lover of animals and a man who cared very deeply for people.”
Geiger said it is important to note that each piece has been used to create a series of lithographic prints. Lithographs are an old method of “copying art in a way that allows you to retain a lot of the details of the original and do it for a lot of copies,” Geiger said. The college has the largest and most complete collection of lithographs on the series. Each one is signed by Sarah and numbered because they’re limited additions.
The artist, Hooper, is still alive, he added, and is “taken seriously.”
“I think he’s produced some impressive works, and I think this series, ‘A Visual Philosophy of Winston Churchill,’ is his most famous work and most recognizable,” Geiger said. “I know that David Cameron, former prime minister of the UK, had one of these lithograph prints hanging in his office above his desk.”
Churchill’s daughter Sarah also made her mark upon the prints. If you look closely at the print, Geiger said, you can see an embossed sketch of Churchill that is based on one of Sarah’s sketches.
“It’s kind of a cool hidden feature,” Geiger said. “It’s right there in the paper.”
Associate Director of Research for the Churchill Project Colin Brown said Hooper’s drawings “are a wonderful depiction of Churchill and of the many facets of his personality and life.”
“It is an honor to be able to display them about campus, for not only do they serve as a reminder of this great man,” Brown said in an email, “but also of the College’s special relationship with his legacy.”