Leonard's Obituary

My father Harold Hitchcock passed away peacefully here with us at our home in South Devon, England. He was 95 years young.

I was very blessed in my relationship with Harold in that we managed to transcend the father/son labels and were like close brothers [he the elder and wiser!]. Towards the end of his life, when the circle was edging to a close, he was like a son, innocent and a little vulnerable. He was a wonderful teacher – he never attempted to influence my life at any time but taught, like all great teachers do, by the example of his own life and way of being.

We held a funeral celebration in the ancient walled garden of our shared home and buried Harold next to his beloved Rose who passed away five years ago. The sun shone and many friends spoke of how this simple man had touched their lives. Two days later there appeared an almost full-page obituary in the ‘Guardian’ newspaper [one of the leading nationals in this country] complete with three full colour pictures – two of the paintings and one of Harold looking inscrutable!

The day before the funeral I wrote the following, which I read out:

‘Dazzled and enraptured by the sun splintering jewel-like through the giant Thundersley elms, you made a childhood promise to try and capture this moment of blissful illumination – to share with others a glimpse of this original Eden; a golden land which unfolded within your being prompting visions of knights and angels in Arcadian vistas shimmering in a glowing dawn or farm hands and shepherds resting in golden fields burnished by the setting sun;

Of lovers entwined in leafy bowers or held in a deeper embrace by nature’s beauty where Titania haunts the wooded glades and casts a twilight spell o’er the quietening day, echoing to an ancient dream. Of half-ruined castles and harbours and sea-misted bays softening the ships with their patterning sails and the scintillating sea in the foreground playing with the sunlight. And the trees - especially the trees! Majestic and glorious; huge clouds of foliage floated in the sky and the sinewy gnarled roots reaching into the earth, sentient guardians of a sacred world all portrayed in reverential crystalline detail.

This vision never faltered or faded but poured forth in increasing colour and light, in symbols and myth from a timeless domain, from the wellspring of your soul. And in the squalid bomb-squad barrack rooms of the war, in the breaks between dismantling the machinery of carnage and destruction, you could no more still your hand on the brush than a bird can stop singing at the glory of the dawn.

Always retaining your child-like character and simplicity of being you experienced directly the wonder of the natural world without mentally labelling it and thereby reducing it to a dead thing. Like life itself your paintings unfolded to an unseen blueprint in a spontaneous fusion of vision and form, always changing and unexpected, always ineffable.

You taught me that true greatness comes clothed in humility and true wisdom in simplicity. That the greatest truth is to be true to our self and to the promise we made in the Garden.’