Missing and Not Known

Solo Exhibition June 2009 at South Square Centre
Illustrated fiction, art with fictitious provenance or just faking it?

The project implicitly asks the viewer to consider how authorship issues remain integral and even predominate when we view and respond to objects which are offered to us as the work of an artist. It also underlines just how slippery the concept of “Authenticity’ is in art.

The Artists' Stories........

Loren Lockwood
known as “Ren”, became a missing person in April 1998. Her disappearance was investigated by the Police, subject to an appeal, below, and some national media coverage when divers made an unproductive search of Wastwater Lake. Little is known of Lockwood’s early life. She was born in the Bradford area and went into the care of the Local Authority at the age of 9 when her father Ronald Lockwood was murdered by her mother, Mary Currie. Loren Lockwood was a very introverted person, partially deaf, who rarely engaged in conversation. She grew up after the age of 9 in group homes and foster care, and had little success at school, her reading and writing skills being poorly developed. Such information as would be held by the Local Authority Social Services about her early life is not available in the public domain. It is not thought that she had any siblings or near relatives who maintained contact with her after her mother’s imprisonment, and her mother died in prison when Ms Lockwood was 13. She left school at 16 and worked for several years in a hospital laundry prior to developing significant physical and possibly mental health problems in her early twenties. She is believed to have been homeless and sleeping rough with her German Shepherd dog when she and Annie Coultas met. Annie Coultas owned a large house in Kendal which contained four studio spaces which she let out to local artists. How she and Lockwood met is not known. Loren Lockwood was taken into the house as cleaner/housekeeper by the recently bereaved Mrs Coultas, who was no longer in communication with her family. It is understood that the two women lived in apparent harmony together for the next 24 years, having few if any outside friendships. Mrs Coultas retained some of her involvements in the local community in Kendal, but Ms Lockwood was rarely seen other than when she left the house with Mrs Coultas in the the car or when she walked the successive dogs they owned in early morning or evening. They did however travel together both abroad and in the UK, particularly to the nearby Lake District. Clearly, Ms Lockwood was encouraged to develop an interest in drawing and painting from tentative beginnings evidenced soon after she moved into the Kendal house around 1973. They attended exhibition preview evenings together at the Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal where Ms Lockwood was said to cut an awkward figure who did not join in conversations which Mrs Coultas had with acquaintances from the local art appreciation scene. By the time Mrs Coultas gave up driving, Ms Lockwood had passed a driving test, and took over the driving on their increasingly rare outings. Her last known movements were to set off on a visit to the Lake District with Tippy, their border terrier, in their Austin Allegro. Mrs Coultas, now increasingly frail and housebound, reported them missing the day after they were due to return. A similar distinctive old car was reported parked oddly near Wasdale Head which prompted the unproductive search of Wastwater Lake but there have been no further sightings or information about Ms Lockwood, the dog or the car since that time. Ms Lockwood had little money on her person and did not have bank account. The Police File is still, therefore, open.

Robert Costello
Almost nothing is known about Robert Costello. Undated paintings, prints and sketchbooks he left behind were found in 2003 at the Kendal house and studio spaces owned by the late Annie Coultas. Attempts to trace him for possible information about the whereabouts of Loren Lockwood have been unsuccessful. After Lockwood’s disappearance, neighbours told the Police that there had been recent periods of a few months when two men, both middle-aged and of similar appearance seemed to be staying at the Kendal house. One of these men was said to have stayed there for about three months just prior to Loren Lockwood’s disappearance. Both family and police tried to identify and trace this man without success and Annie Coultas denied that she had ever had such a guest or indeed that Loren Lockwood had had any male acquaintances. Distraught by Lockwood’s disappearance Mrs. Coultas had become reconciled with her family and accepted their comfort but continued to her death to deny to them knowledge of any such man. It was not until after her death that Robert Costello’s artwork and sketchbook notes were discovered. Since Mrs. Coultas’s death, the Coultas family have used various means to try to gain information about Robert Costello including a private detective and a notice in The Times. Nothing has been forthcoming