Luke Hannam 'The Compass & The Rosary'

Fully illustrated catalogue for the solo exhibition 'The Compass & The Rosary' at Anima Mundi by Luke Hannam

Fully illustrated catalogue for the solo exhibition 'The Compass & The Rosary' at Anima Mundi by Luke Hannam


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L uke H annam


The greatest forces lie in the region of the uncomprehended.”

George MacDonald, A Dish of Orts



The Compass & The Rosary’ is Luke

Hannam’s (b. 1966) debut solo exhibition at

Anima Mundi and represents a significant

period of development and refinement in

the artist’s practice. As the title eludes,

the exhibition offers an exploration as to

how the artist (and perhaps we), find a way

through the often blinding complexity of

the human experience - when cut adrift,

are we to be guided by logic and reason

or emotion and faith? It is no coincidence

that the making of this work has coincided

with repeated lockdowns and the worry

and ensuing tragedy of a global pandemic,

no doubt heightening personal anxiety

which consciously or subconsciously

inform thematic concerns and an intangible

urgency. However these events have also

provided space and time for Hannam to

broaden his creative intent.

All the works have been made during an

extended residency at Bridgepoint studio

in Rye, England, located near to Luke’s

home. The scale of this work space offered

an irresistible invitation to begin working

on enormous canvases, by far and away the

largest of his career thus far - this technical

development encouraged a practical

unlocking of potential, as Luke explains

“Working this large helped me to unravel a

new way of painting”. The resultant colossal

paintings could, in different hands, be seen

as grandiose, with their romantic and even

classical form and gesture, but the deliberate

rawness of material, creased and imperfect,

provides a constant and inescapable

reminder of human fallibility. The works

for all their presence, remain notably and

remarkably humble.

Hannam describes his work as the result of

an “ordered chaos” where poetic paintings

are made “in the eye of the storm”.

Creativity spins wildly, through bursts of

impulse around a silent meditative deep

well of meaning. Ideas emerge out of an

energetic dedication to drawing and a

relentless desire to explore images and

motifs, many of which come to him in

his dreams which are experienced and

remembered with absolute lucidity. His

work is instantly recognisable through a

strong punch of colour and definite use of

line which weaves its way sensuously across

the surface, denoting both the delicacy

and strength of the form and spirit of the

subject. Hannam’s paintings expressively

offer a singular view on how what he

sees, how he thinks and pivotally how he

feels about the human condition and what

lies beyond our materiality. As such his

work continues the Romantic tradition,

embracing reality and mysticism with the

wonder of experience to visionary effect

- these are not paintings about far off

realms of fantasy, they are rooted in the

here and now, a reflection of the true

nature of existence, solitary yet connected,

violent and beautiful in blossoming flux,

where potential renews through continual

deep rooted contemplation, endeavour

and struggle.

I can think of no more appropriate exhibition

than Luke Hannam’s ‘The Compass & The

Rosary’ for us to emerge from our own

caves and welcome the coming of Spring.

Joseph Clarke, Director of Anima Mundi


The Road to Porlock

acrylic on linen, 40 x 51 cm



The Young Mariner

acrylic on canvas, 176 x 130 cm


Elijah stood at the mouth of the cave

and looked out at the threatening clouds

darkening the horizon. It struck him that

he was standing on the same Mountain

Moses had once climbed up, to kneel before

God and receive the tablets of the Law.

That encounter had left Moses with a face

that shone so brightly he had had to wear

a veil. While Moses and the Israelites had

wandered through this wilderness for forty

years, he had only been there for forty days

and nights. It didn’t feel like a month since

his rapid midnight flight. He remembered

the feelings of hunger, exhaustion and

utter despair, but then an angel had fed

him, not just once, but twice and that had

kept him going, the hot cakes filling his

stomach in a way that food never usually

did. But Jezebel’s threats still rang in his

ears, the chilling promise of death that had

made him run, her hunger for vengeance

because he had killed the prophets of Baal.

How had it come to this? He was a dreamer,

a conduit, someone glimpsing fragments

of truths and realities where others only

saw half-truths and shadows dancing on

the wall.

The storm was on top of him now, thunder

and lightning surrounding and engulfing

him. It felt as if the world was being torn

apart, reduced to rubble. Dust and scattered

detritus flying everywhere. He was right in

the middle of it. It was too loud to hear

anything, too terrifying, yet it was also

magnificent, something so awe inspiring

it left him tingling. It felt as though God

was ripping the world to pieces to start

again. But was it God? Was he there in this

Chaos? Suddenly it was incredibly quiet,

the noise had abated, the wind had stilled.

And then he heard a voice, a still, small

voice, a persistent calling in the silence he

could not avoid – “Elijah.”

Elijah has been a persistent voice in

Luke Hannam’s imagination and work for

the last few months, a recurring image

demanding to be released through a torrent

of paintings and drawings. Again and again,

the emaciated, gaunt figure of Elijah stares

out at us, a looming, naked form, pleading,

exhausted, visionary, tended to by an angel,

conjured from a nebulous cloud made

up of brush strokes or lyrically searching

pencil lines.

It was inevitable that Hannam would be

drawn to the Old Testament story of Elijah,

for it contains so many of the elements we

associate with his work: a figure or figures

alone in a vast, sublime landscape, a sense

of epic journey, the presence of angels and

supernatural or mythical beings, intense

emotions, atmospheric turbulence and the

possibility of an encounter with the Divine.

From these fragmented shards and multiple

layers, Hannam weaves arresting narratives.

But Hannam is not a teller of tales, he is a

teaser of tales. He gives us the ingredients

and like a vaguely remembered dream

asks us to connect the dots and fill in the

blanks, to find that universal connection

that will bind the whole together.

Elijah heard God in the still small voice, but

Hannam’s encounter with otherness begins

in the storm of creation, in the thunder and

chaos of a creative process that is furious

and frenetic. HIs vast canvases are finished


at high speed, lines tumbling from his

mind through his arm down to the brush or

pencil almost too quickly to be registered.

Subjects are pulled from the vivid reality

of his dreams into a whirlwind of thought

and imagination, where he is constantly

looking for difference in a multiplicity of

almost identical images, pursuing patterns

that will help him put these fragments and

layers together into a larger whole.

As if standing in the void before creation,

surrounded by atoms waiting to coalesce,

bombarded by unseen photons of light

containing potential colour, Hannam’s

paintings offer encounters with the

formlessness of the sublime. These are

spaces of promise where lines dart and

jab like luminous messengers. Borders

and bodies have not yet formed, allowing

colours to cross potential boundaries,

pursuing the vibration that comes from

interaction, as one colour seeks to define

itself in relation to another. Sometimes the

space between these marks seems limitless,

a yawning chasm of raw canvas, in which

the illusion of familiar forms is replaced by

stitch marks and seams that celebrate the

mundane realities of painting and making.

Sometimes the marks have coagulated

into areas of dense colour where forms

begin to solidify, and the tangible world

takes shape.

If Hannam’s paintings offer us an encounter

with the sublime, then his drawings provide

moments of beauty. He may create them

before the paintings, working out ideas,

capturing his visions, exploring possibilities.

But instead of being preparatory sketches,

they are guiding visions offering him solid

moments to aim for, a promise of form

amid the formlessness of paint. In the thin,

focused trail of a pencil he finds the still

small voice, guiding him, like a sailor after

a long voyage, back home to dry land.

There is a seemingly effortless facility to

Hannam’s drawings. His lines are lyrical

and expressive, creating a nebulous cloud

in the centre of the sheet of paper where

narratives are born. They invite us to

dance in their sinuous embrace, pulling us

in, encouraging us to follow meandering

trails that suddenly dissolve into a mist of

densely shaded mystery. They may show us

the beauty of ideal form, but they also show

us the possibility and promise of physical

presence in an ocean of potential space.

Hannam’s drawings are the compass that

brings order to the apparent chaos and

turbulence of his practise, a process of

constant repetition, which, like saying the

Rosary, enables him to reach out in hope,

as a voyager into unknown realms that

offer the promise of vibrant presence.

Richard Davey, 2021

(Richard Davey is an internationally published

author, curator and member of the International

‘Association of Art Critics’. He was a judge

of the John Moores Painting Prize 2016 and

wrote the major exhibition publication for

Anselm Kiefer’s solo exhibition at the Royal

Academy of Arts, in 2014 alongside the 2015,

2016 and 2017 ‘Royal Academy Summer

Exhibition’ catalogues.)


The Compass & The Rosary

acrylic on canvas, 235 x 358 cm




A Young Maiden’s Voyage

acrylic on canvas, 160 x 250 cm


An Epic Tale of Love & Loss

acrylic on canvas, 90 x 120 cm




Tropic of Capricorn

acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm


Lure of the Sea

graphite on fabriano paper, 21 x 30 cm


The Lord of the Waters

graphite on fabriano paper, 21 x 30 cm


The Lyricist

acrylic on canvas, 274 x 365 cm



Juste Among the Gulls

graphite on fabriano paper, 21 x 30 cm



graphite on fabriano paper, 21 x 30 cm



acrylic on canvas, 36 x 46 cm


Heavenly Bodies Study

acrylic on canvas, 31 x 41 cm


Heavenly Bodies

acrylic on canvas, 274 x 365 cm



Malachi & The Messenger

acrylic on canvas, 46 x 61 cm


Malachi Falls to Earth

acrylic on canvas, 31 x 41 cm


Passing Time

acrylic on canvas, 160 x 250 cm





acrylic on canvas, 160 x 250 cm



graphite on fabriano paper, 21 x 30 cm


Elijah in the Cave

graphite on fabriano paper, 21 x 30 cm



Elijah’s Vision

acrylic on canvas, 151 x 125 cm


Elijah & The Angel

acrylic on canvas, 90 x 120 cm



Elijah Calls Out to God

acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm


Lazarus Leaves the Tomb

acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm




acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm



acrylic on canvas, 90 x 120 cm





acrylic on canvas, 150 x 110 cm



acrylic on canvas, 153 x 111 cm




Self Portrait (Facing West)

acrylic on canvas, 150 x 110 cm


Self Portrait

graphite on fabriano paper, 30 x 21 cm



graphite on fabriano paper, 30 x 21 cm



graphite on fabriano paper, 30 x 21 cm


Sunny Kneeling on a Chair

graphite on fabriano paper, 30 x 21 cm



The Red Robe

acrylic on canvas, 240 x 150 cm


Her Naked Gaze

acrylic on canvas, 230 x 345 cm




The Paradise Garden

acrylic on canvas, 160 x 250 cm


Despair, Melancholy & Joy

acrylic on linen, 51 x 76 cm



Three Figures Reclining

acrylic on canvas, 51 x 61 cm


The Heavenly Twins

acrylic on canvas, 46 x 61 cm



acrylic on canvas, 220 x 150 cm



Published by Anima Mundi to coincide with Luke HannamThe Compass & The Rosary’

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or

by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publishers

Anima Mundi . Street-an-Pol . St. Ives . Cornwall . +44 (0)1736 793121 . mail@animamundigallery.com . www.animamundigallery.com


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