The Unexpected Return Of Oliver Cromwell In 2020 by Mark Sheeky

G1217A The Unexpected Return Of Oliver Cromwell In 2020
Oil on canvas panel
Jun 2019 to May 2021, 480x680 mm

Detail from The Unexpected Return Of Oliver Cromwell In 2020 by Mark Sheeky Detail from The Unexpected Return Of Oliver Cromwell In 2020 by Mark Sheeky Detail from The Unexpected Return Of Oliver Cromwell In 2020 by Mark Sheeky Detail from The Unexpected Return Of Oliver Cromwell In 2020 by Mark Sheeky

About this painting
This came to me in a clear vision at 4am on June 7th 2019, an image of Oliver Cromwell, his eyes shadowed like the famous Rembrandt self portrait, glaring at the viewer menacingly. The mood of Britain at this time seemed to resonate with the troubled times of the English civil war, there seemed to be a feeling of crypto-civil war in the country, perhaps due to Brexit, perhaps due to other factors. The civil war period has always fascinated me, in particular my affinity with King Charles, seeing Cromwell as an religious extremist antagonist.

I started work immediately and produced the first sketches on June 9th, starting painting that month. Yet, the painting stalled and I left it unfinished until March 2021 where I decided to complete it, intending to premiere it at my exhibition at Nantwich Museum which, at the time, was scheduled for December.

Coronavirus intervened, however, and the exhibition was postponed until January, and I decided to enter the painting into the prestigious Grosvenor Museum exhibition. The delivery was fraught with so much trouble, from unexpected hail-storms to closed roads and 15 miles of diversions, that I began to think of the painting as cursed.

In late November the 'Omicron' variant of coronavirus emerged. I couldn't help but link the emergence of Oliver Cromwell and the emergence of Omicron.