Jack Simcock was born in Staffordshire in 1929. His paintings are instantly recognisable due to their stark monochromatic tones. For many years he lived in the village of Mow Cop (on the border between Cheshire and Staffordshire), and between 1956 and 1977 he repeatedly depicted it in his work. There is an intimacy and understanding between the artist and his subject matter that not only pervades the works but that is revealed in the title of his 1975 autobiography Simcock, Mow Cop.

Biddulph Moor

Biddulph Moor 1957

Jack Simcock (1929–2012)

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Simcock manages to capture the desolate nature of this landscape masterfully. Although at first his landscapes appear bleak and uninviting, after prolonged inspection human activity and life start emerging from the shadows. A recurring image in his work is that of a head which seamlessly blends into the landscape behind it. At first the viewer might not even distinguish this, but once it emerges from the murky background the landscape is transformed and the human presence can no longer be ignored.

The 'Rose and Crown'

The 'Rose and Crown' 1956

Jack Simcock (1929–2012)

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

It is this humanity within the works that prevents them from seeming entirely bleak. The electricity cables that feature repeatedly in his paintings testify to the fact that light is present in his work, be it indirectly.

Rockside, Mow Cop, Staffordshire

Rockside, Mow Cop, Staffordshire 1969

Jack Simcock (1929–2012)

Rochdale Arts & Heritage Service

The paintings exude a melancholy, timeless beauty. Simcock uses light to dramatic effect creating intricate and delicate outlines of tree branches and contrasting them evocatively against a pale grey sky. His paintings belie a stillness that invites introspection and privileges the viewer by enabling them to observe what in essence amounts to a private landscape.

Sonia Roe, Freelance Editorial Consultant