John Elcock

John Elcock is a visual artist with an interest in landscape, birds and symbolism. Previous exhibitions include A Strange Reality at Warrington Art Gallery and selection in The Lynn Painter- Stainers Prize 2018. His three collections of poetry are published by The Artel Press.


This structure was created for Material Matters Act 3 in reclaimed timber and was constructed outside in the sculpture yard at Bridewell Studios over a period of 3 days in December 2018.

Anchorite alludes to a monastic practice of the middle ages in which a hermit would wilfully and permanently enter an enclosed cell attached to the chancel of a church. Unlike the Bridewell, the anchorite’s cell however would be a place of prayer and ascetic removal, rather than one of forced imprisonment and humiliation.

Like its medieval counterpart, Anchorite contained a squint, an alms window and skylight. It communicated directly through to the cells of the Bridewell via a hidden upper window, in a similar manner to the medieval squint’s perspective on the altar.

For the opening night of Act 3 the artist spent one night in his contemporary interpretation of an anchorite cell to test his, and our modern resolve, to abstinence and voluntary privation.

Anchhorite (2018) 1.5×2.5×2.5m Recycled timber
Anchorite (2018) Day 2 of 3: under construction
Anchorite (2018)


In this work specifically created for Act 1 of Material Matters, Elcock reproduced at 1:60 scale the subterranean passage underneath James St linking the ditch (fosse) of the now lost 13th century Liverpool Castle with the Mersey.

A section of the work features a gesso hand-tinted with ground pigment collected from Liverpool bedrock – inextricably linking materials with its subject matter.

15kg of recycled cardboard was used in its construction. The sections were laminated with gesso and hole-sawn to reveal an inner core along its entire length corresponding to the medieval tunnel. A hidden media device plays fleeting images suggesting modern ideas of ‘escape’.

Fosse (2018): Cardboard, gesso and media device
John Elcock
Fosse (detail)