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 Defence.
Extracts from his diary, which give a colourful first hand account of his life, can be found in the recently published monograph, H.A.Finney – Out of the Shadows which accompanies the Finney retrospective which is being held at The Lightbox Woking in 2022.
We are grateful to Nicholas Finney for assistance.