David Hurrell studied Art at North East Essex Technical College & School of Art (Colchester) and St Martins’ School of Art and Design (London) between 1973 and 1977. After graduating with an Honours Degree in Graphic Design and Illustration he worked in the publishing industry as a freelance illustrator for sixteen years. During this time his work encompassed a broad range of subjects, ranging from finely detailed natural history studies for field guides and greetings cards, cottage garden designs for collector porcelain, architectural perspectives for property developers, and figurative illustrations for advertising and non-fiction children’s publications.
In a parallel career he achieved notable success as a landscape painter in watercolour. Favourite subjects included the sea walls and marshes of the Essex coast, which drew on his pastimes of rambling and observing wildlife, and his passion for old boats and rural architecture. His works have travelled to the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia and Arctica and are represented locally in the Southend Borough Council Walter Beecroft Collection.
Between 1993 and 2010 David was employed full-time as a designer, illustrator and pre-press technician at the Good News Press in Chipping Ongar.
Since its inception in 1989, David has been a sporadic member – once or twice a year – of the tutorial team for Broadland Arts Centre, Norfolk (oft times aboard a Thames barge). He makes occasional forays to art societies, to lecture or to select exhibitions, and he is a lay member of Southend Art Club.
David is a keen conservationist and local historian, and enjoys casual membership of the Essex Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and the Society for Sailing Barge Research. He has lived in Hadleigh nearly all his life and – whilst he balks at joining a political party – his passion for community welfare often spills over into curmudgeonly activism.
In 2010 he became a founding member of the extraordinary historical website, Hadleigh & Thundersley Community Archive, www.hadleighhistory.org.uk and has been enthusiastic in its promotion.
David continues to play cornet with various music ensembles and helps administrate Southend’s Civic Brass Band on a voluntary basis (which he has done for about forty years). He is Teacher-in-Charge at Essex County Council’s Benfleet Music School on Saturday mornings and, in partnership with Don Watson, runs Southend Youth Brass Academy on a Friday afternoon.
For several years he has been writing and illustrating a book depicting the Essex Marshes and the sprits’l sailing barges that plied the Thames but, with so many distractions, he despairs that it will ever be completed.
About his painting, David says, “I draw inspiration from my rural locality. I feel very ‘connected’ with this corner of England and strongly linked to its history. Despite (or perhaps because of) my resentment at the relentless onslaught of urban growth and development in South East Essex, I try to convey my sense of wonder, delight and discovery for the living, natural landscape and the motifs within it that connect us to our heritage. I am a preservationist at heart. Not a Canute though, vainly hoping to turn the insatiable, inevitable tide of progress, but an evangelist for the possibilities that conservation offers. Through my art I remind viewers that beauty and solace, peace and joy, is there to be found in unremarkable places – just for the looking – and that it might be cherished and nurtured for the betterment of all.”