the artist’s sketchbooks

There are so many of them that I can only show a tiny selection here. These days I mainly use sketchbooks when travelling. For drawing in the studio and around Ty Isaf, I use loose-leaf paper. Although I work directly into the sketchbooks, occasionally a ‘project’ book additionally becomes a repository for drawings made on loose-leaf.

Project Book: EQUUS

Project Book: CARN EUNY








If I had a single piece of advice to offer to any artist, it would be this: whatever your practice or medium, draw constantly. Be like the dancer, who never lets a day go past without a class. Draw as much as you can, wherever you can. Draw from observation (of course) but draw for practice too, from memory or from imagination, mark-making for precision or beauty-of-line alone, regardless of subject or likeness. Draw with pencil, with nibbed-pen, with charcoal or crayon or Conté pencil or biro. Draw with brushes and inks, or twigs dipped in watercolour or with old toothbrushes or the tips of feathers. Draw with anything. Subvert habit with new experience. Drawing can be for recording, but more than that it’s an expressive form that can be endlessly reinvented. Keep project-books and work at them even when the spirit doesn’t move you. Work in them out of discipline and respect for your art-form. They’re money in the bank for later, when you need the inspiration stored in them. Draw. Draw again. Never stop drawing.

Drawing is life.

equus revisited: part four

Part four of my Afterword to the 2009 Old Stile Press illustrated edition of Peter Shaffer’s Equus.

Page opening
The horses in this version of Equus are sometimes recognisable animals, sometimes the hybrid man/horse/god of Alan’s imagination and Dysart’s fearful reflection. In places they become brutalised beasts, lingering near the text like apparitions haunting their tormentor. Significantly, Shaffer never mentions the fate of the blinded animals, though the implication must be that they were destroyed. Absences like these allow an artist to slip into the gap, to illuminate rather than illustrate.
Page opening
In Equus Peter Shaffer created a play that became an iconic presence in twentieth-century theatre. It has been challenging, in the strangest way, to direct the play at last. This edition has been a collaborative venture from the start. Nicolas and Frances are my sternest critics and greatest supporters. I greatly appreciate them in both roles. Callum James had the generosity to share his original idea. I owe much to Simon Callow (Shaffer’s original Amadeus), who helped me dissect the text, discussing it in lengthy e-mails and bringing his insights to bear on my understanding of the characters. Having seen him on stage in the role of Dysart, I always heard Simon’s magnificent voice when I summoned the character to mind. And finally there is Peter Wakelin, who tirelessly navigates my ship through all too frequently choppy waters and who, without dissent, allowed his likeness to be used throughout this book. Such are the ways of creativity. He is not as sinister as I’ve made him look.
C.H.-J. 2009
Page opening
Study of Peter made for Equus. Conté pencil and acrylic ink.

A play by Sir Peter Shaffer
with imagery by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Main Edition: 200 copies (1-200) 
Special Edition: 10 copies (I-X)
Signed by the playwright and the artist.

Contact The Old Stile Press  to purchase.

Publishing History
Equus first published by Andre Deutsch, 1974
Copyright Peter Shaffer 1973
Three plays first published in Penguin Books 1976
This edition published in 2009 by The Old Stile Press
Images by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Designed by Nicolas McDowall
The images were printed by Nicolas McDowall at The Old Stile Press
The Bodoni types were printed by J. W. Nortend Ltd, Sheffield
Bound at The Fine Bindery
ISBN: 13 987-0-907664-83-3
Edition of 200 copies
Special Edition of 10 copies
Limited edition lino-print, one of several extras included in the Special Edition
Click on Equus in the topics box to view past posts about the making of the book.

a time of gifts

Earlier this year the artist and illustrator Ed Kluz contacted me to ask about purchasing a piece of my work as a birthday gift for his partner, the curator and art historian Simon Martin. However after some discussion, we agreed instead on a like-for-like transaction. Ed selected an acrylic study of an unused illustration, Fallen Conquistador, made for the Old Stile Press 2009 edition of Peter Shaffer’s play Equus. Later I selected a collage he had made, Dean Terrace, Edinburgh, as my Christmas gift to Peter. This is one of  the most delightful perks I can think of as far as being an artist is concerned, the happy exchange of artworks between  those who admire each other. I’m relieved to report that both recipients loved their presents!

Ed’s Dean Terrace, Edinburgh, selected by me for Peter.

My Fallen Conquistador from Equus, selected by Ed for Simon.

Merry Christmas to you all!

full circle


Above: National Theatre poster for Equus. The image is by Moura George

Peter Shaffer’s Equus enthralls London audiences when first presented by the National Theatre at the Old Vic. The play is directed by John Dexter and designed by John Napier, starring Alec McCowen as Martin Dysart and twenty-year-old Peter Firth in his breakthrough role as Alan Strang. I see the play and I’m swept away by its power.


Above: Gilbert Lesser poster for Sidney Lumet’s film of the play. (My thanks to John Coulthart at Feuilleton for identifying the designer .)

Sydney Lumet directs the screen version of Equus, adapted by Shaffer himself. Richard Burton and Peter Firth head a cast that includes Eileen Atkins, Joan Plowright, Colin Blakely and Jenny Agutter.


I’m asked to direct a murder mystery play by Anthony Shaffer. Whodunnit is an opportunity to work with an interesting cast on a national tour, and I accept the offer. However, I harbour a faint hope that in so doing I might meet the playwright’s twin brother Peter and, by dint of the wonderful work I plan to do, convince him I’ll be the perfect director for his great play, Equus. At the opening Anthony declares himself delighted with the production of Whodunnit, but I never meet Peter and I never direct Equus. A few years later I leave my career in the theatre to concentrate on painting.


Above: Red Halter. Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Conté pencil on Arches paper.

My first major exhibition in a public gallery, The Mare’s Tale, opens at Newport Museum and Art Gallery. The main body of work in it is a meditation on my father’s childhood memory of the Welsh mid-winter tradition of the Mari Lwyd, and how he was marked by the experience and haunted by it right up to his death. The Mari Lwyd was from the ‘hobby-horse’ tradition of mumming, and manifested as a horse’s skull on a pole with a sheet draped to cover the man who carried it. But in my drawings the Mari appears in many forms, some of which echo Shaffer’s horse-worshipping boy.

Above: Stumbles and Falls II. Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Conté pencil on Arches paper.

Above: The Mare’s Tale. Poems by Catriona Urquhart and images by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Published by the Old Stile Press in 2001.

Catriona Urquhart produces a ‘poetic text’ for the exhibition, originally intended to be printed onto gallery panels. However, Nicolas and Frances McDowall at the Old Stile Press are so impressed by the poems, that they publish them to coincide with the opening. Titled The Mare’s Tale, the edition is illustrated with pen and ink images that I make specially for it.

Tend: Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Conté pencil on Arches paper.

I’m invited to show two works from The Mare’s Tale series in the exhibition Dreaming Awake at the Terezin Memorial Gallery in the Czech Republic.


Deposition III. Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Conté pencil on Arches paper.

A second Mari Lwyd exhibition, The Tower on the Hill, opens at Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery, with all the drawings from The Mares’s Tale plus a handful of new works on the same theme. Among the new drawings is Deposition III, which is acquired by Nicolas and Frances McDowall of The Old Stile Press.


Above: Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Collage made as a trial image for the Old Stile Press illustrated edition of Equus.

Equus has continued to transfix audiences and actors over three decades, and diverse productions of it have been staged in countries around the world. Finally a major London revival of the play appears when Thea Sharrock’s production opens at the Gielgud Theatre with Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe as Dysart and Strang. A performance is attended by Callum James, who has seen my drawing Deposition III while staying with Nicolas and Frances McDowall at their home in Wales. Later that weekend Callum meets with Nicolas at a London book fair, and whispers the words ‘Equus‘ and ‘Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ in his ear. Nicolas approaches me with the notion of making an illustrated edition of Equus. Permissions are sought and agreed with the author and Penguin Books. After a trial image made from collage, I begin work by making a series of preparatory maquettes before starting on some drawings.

Above: Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Maquette made in preparation for the Old Stile Press illustrated edition of Equus.

Above: Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Preparatory drawings for the Old Stile Press illustrated edition of Equus. Conté pencil and acrylic on paper.


Above: Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Images for the Old Stile Press illustrated edition of Equus.

The Old Stile Press illustrated edition of Equus is launched at the London Art Book Fair. Simon Callow, who has been playing Dysart in the national tour of Equus, turns up at the event to lend his support. His insights into the text have been fundamental to the way I’ve approached it.


Above: Both Fall. Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Conté pencil on Arches paper. Collection of Simon Callow.

My sixtieth birthday retrospective opens at the Gregynog Gallery of the National Library of Wales. The National Museum of Wales, Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery and private collectors from across Wales lend works for the exhibition, and for the first time since 2002, all the large Mari Lwyd drawings are assembled in one place.

Above: the Gregynog Gallery of the National Library of Wales, 2011.

Lund Humpphries publish a monograph of my work to coincide with the retrospective, with an introduction by Simon Callow in which he describes that it was a drawing from the Mare’s Tale series seen in a Bath art gallery, that led him to seek me out. A Mari Lwyd drawing from his own collection hangs in the gallery.


I’m approached by Isabelle De Cat, picture editor at Penguin, who asks permission to use an image of one of my maquettes on the cover of the play, due to be re-editioned in new livery by Penguin Modern Classics. The new Penguin edition will be available in mid-2013, forty years after I first saw and fell in love with Equus at the Old Vic.

the penguin modern classics cover

I fear I had to make you all wait for this, but here it is at last.

It’ll be a little while yet before the book is available for purchase, as it’s not due out until mid 2013. The maquette is currently in Saint Helier, on show in a display-case at the Jersey Arts Centre.

Last year it starred in a documentary by the film-maker Pete Telfer, in which some maquettes went through their paces in short animated clips. The clips were really just a light-hearted way of illustrating the range of movement the maquettes are capable of. In reality they get blu-tacked to a wall of my studio, and I change their arrangements almost daily. I’d often said that if someone took daily photographs of the ‘maquette wall ‘, then after a year there would be an interesting animated film to show for it.