I first became aware of Finn Haddock's paintings in the late 1990's when my late father, Harry Hutson, a naval historian, was having his latest book promoted at Grimsby's Fishing Heritage Centre. The walls in the large auditorium displayed an exhibition and although the main focus was on my father - those paintings were impossible to miss!
Later my father told us the story of Dr Haddock, which really helped us to put the paintings into context.
A couple of years later I saw a small notice in the local paper that the paintings were to be auctioned. As a family we were interested to know how they sold, possibly purchase one, if we could afford it.
The day of the auction dawned and I nervously registered and got my bidding number. It was a mixed auction and the paintings were a long way down the line, which meant that I had about three or four hours to observe how it was done - and to become increasingly nervous!
When the Haddocks came up the mood in the room altered from serious, intense bidding to scornful and dismissive laughter. These paintings were treated as though they were trash and of no interest or value. The auctioneer led this merriment.
I was incensed. Head held high, I bid for as many as I was able to - there were only two other bidders interested in them and I was able to purchase the lesser, unfinished ones for as little as £5.00 each, sometimes £7.50 if one of the others put in a token bid, I paid more for the finished and framed ones. All this time the rest of the auction room were laughing and jeering as the paintings were shown. It was a travesty.
The people at the auction didn't realise that the paintings were the work of a man who had been through such terrible experiences. Many of the paintings are on hardboard, some on canvas. Most are unframed. I suppose they just saw large swirls of colour, daubs of paint, weird and inexplicable shapes and they fell about laughing. I don't blame them, they didn't know. Perhaps they wouldn't have cared anyway.
We keep the paintings because we value them. I hope that one day the work of Dr Haddock will be appreciated as much as it was in the 1960's and 70's. It's not about monetary value, it is about acknowledging that this man went through terrible times, but found a way to carry on, a way to get through his tormented nights. Expressionism at its most intense.
The paintings have had their annual health check and spring clean and will now be returned to safe storage - hopefully that will be the last time they influence anyone's dreams. Powerful work, given that George didn't know they were under the bed!