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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Charlie Mackesy (b. 1962)

Illustrator and sculptor born in Northumberland and educated at Radley College, Abingdon, and Queen Elizabeth High School, Hexham. An atheist in his earlier years, Mackesy’s eventual acceptance of the Christian faith came with his conviction that its central purpose was the spreading of the message that all people have God’s unconditional love. A regular, and very popular, guest preacher at Holy Trinity Brompton (‘HTB’), London, the theme of all of his talks is his belief in the transcendent importance of love for one’s fellow human beings. Although he never attended art school, according to his own account he spent three months in America with a portrait painter where he learned about anatomy. He began his career as a cartoonist for The Spectator, subsequently working as a book illustrator for Oxford University Press. In 2003/4 he was one of the artists selected to work on Nelson Mandela’s Unity lithograph project. In 2019, he published his remarkably successful illustrated book, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, the main themes of which are love, friendship and kindness; by the end of 2020 it had sold over a million copies. His sculpture is similarly expressive of his beliefs, an example of which is his Return of the Prodigal, 2005 sited on the approach to HTB, an earlier variant of which was incorporated into the headstone over the grave of the political consultant Philip Gould (d. 2011) in Highgate Cemetery.

Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, p. 132; Charlie Mackesy website; Wikipedia.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022