Exhibited: The Lightbox, Woking, Out of the Shadows, 2020, cat 32
A reclusive figure whose work has remained largely unseen Finney studied under Eric Gill before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in the early 1920’s; his closest were Charles Mahoney,(1903-1968), Gerald Ososki (1903-1981) and Barnett Freedman (1901-1958) . All four appear together in Freedman’s group portrait, The Stanhope Street Group (1926). Finney had the good fortune to attend the RCA as part of a generation that were to become amongst Britains best loved artists (Ravilious, Bawden, Hepworth, Moore, Dunbar, Sorrell, Piper etc).
Equally versatile when working on canvas or paper his compositions are characterised by a distinctive use of colour and design, similar in many ways to that of Ravilous, through which everyday scenes and topography are transformed through an underlying sense of pattern. Finney’s work is saturated with a the aesthetic now much associated with the mid-century Recording Britain project.
After a travelling scholarship to Rome in 1924 Finney took a teaching post to work alongside Percy Jowett at Chelsea School of Art and later Reading University. During WW2 he served in the Civil Defense.
Extracts from his unpublished diary, which give a colourful first hand account of his life, are due to be published in 2021 in the context of a touring museum show.
We are grateful to Nicholas Finney for assistance.