Culture: Stillness & Subtlety; Art History Provided Inspiration for Pam Hawkes, Whose Paintings Draw on the Traditions of the Renaissance, Medieval Text Illuminations and the Dutch School. Caroline Foulkes Reports

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Byline: Caroline Foulkes

Magic SquarePam Hawkes' paintings have a haunting quality about them. They're the kind of paintings you don't forget in a hurry. You couldn't just hang one on a wall and walk away and forget about it. Even Pam admits that.

'People either seem to love them or hate them. Some people really love them. They're not wallpaper, though.' Pam's pictures are inspired by medieval illuminated texts, in particular the marginalia that surrounds the texts.

'The texts are often quite sacred,' says Pam, 49.

'But the pictures around them can be somewhat profane, and I was interested in the dichotomy of that.'

Pam's interest in medieval texts started while studying for her degree in fine art at Coventry University.

'I'd never had any formal art qualifications. I attended the Moseley Art School in Balsall Heath from the age of 11 and have been painting ever since. After school I went travelling then had children so it wasn't until ten years ago that I thought about going to do a degree.

'While I was on my course I started looking at medieval illuminations and it has left its mark, especially in the materials and processes I use. For example, I use gesso, a type of ground made from gilders' whiteing and rabbit skin glue. You have to boil it all up and build up a few coats then sand it down until it's like marble - then you can paint on it. …