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Mason has lived and worked in France for fifty years, but his central concerns, with narrative, close observation and the rich diversity of humanity, are in the tradition of the eighteenth-century painter Hogarth, whose vivid evocations of contemporary life helped create the foundations of a native English school of art. Birmingham-born, Mason has recalled how he 'spent a sickly childhood looking through curtains at a brick-lined street'. In 1971, finding himself in a Manhattan coffee shop, his 'heart...warmed by the sight of the brick fronts opposite', he drew the view through the window as 'an extravagant populace trouped the sidewalks in sharp noon sunlight. All travellers enjoy sitting watching a foreign world pass by'.

August 2004