Part 1: Important Fine Art
26 November 2014


(1893 - 1977)

oil on board

55.0 x 75.0 cm

signed and dated lower right: Raokin '56
‘Ball Game' verso

$30,000 - 40,000
Sold for $36,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 37 - 26 November 2014, Melbourne

Lawsons, Sydney, 17 March 1992, lot 278
Private collection, Sydney
Private collection, Melbourne


Raokin: Weaver Hawkins Survey Exhibition, Gallery Irascible, Melbourne, 24 April – 24 May 1996, cat. 20 (illus. in exhibition catalogue)

Catalogue text

The artistic journey of Harold Frederick Weaver Hawkins, usually known as Weaver Hawkins, is at times hard to follow, as many of his works are simply signed Raokin, a phonetic interpretation of his name in Italian. The reasons for that deception lie deep in his life after World War One. Born in Sydenham, London in 1893, Hawkins had intended to follow a career as an art teacher before war intervened. Enlisting at the outbreak of hostilities, he was badly wounded on the Somme in 1916. A lengthy series of operations saved his right arm from amputation but his hand was rendered useless and he had to learn to write and draw with his left hand.

After his recovery, Hawkins resumed his art training and, having married in 1923, moved to the French Riviera to work. He was displeased at having his work critiqued as an invalid artist and, after 1927, took the name Raokin to exhibit anonymously back in Britain. Working in France and Italy saw him move to a modernist style in his depictions of domestic life and the world of the common man. As a student he was influenced by the English modernists, and in particular Wyndham Lewis's vorticism which appeared as a stronger influence from the mid 1940s. He understood the desire to depict a world in motion, of change and modernity, for he himself had been at the heart of the world's greatest conflict. He knew the old world was gone for good, and as a rationalist and agnostic by inclination, his war experience had left him cynical of nationalism and established ideologies. Troubled by early signs of renewed French war preparations in the early 1930s, he took his family on an extended tour of the South Pacific and after living in Tahiti and New Zealand decided to settle at Mona Vale on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

Weaver Hawkins quickly became a leading figure in the more progressive art organisations in Sydney, serving as President of the Contemporary Art Society from the mid 1950s until 1963. He is perhaps best known for his large allegorical murals which blended Great War imagery with cold war symbolism and warnings of nuclear holocaust. These works however were just part of an impressive output which included powerful bush landscapes, studies of surrounding domestic life and a number of very fine depictions of athletes and sportsmen in action. His Domestic Interior is an elegantly composed work, with two women working quietly at home in a room strikingly furnished with what might be seen as Van Gogh's yellow chair and table. Emphatically hard edged and two-dimensional, the painting uses colour and flat shapes to build a resonating image of tightly interconnected forms. Like his near neighbour in Sydney, Frank Hinder, Hawkins continued to champion the principles of good graphic design and abstract values right until his retirement from active painting in 1972. He was the subject of a major project exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1976, which was followed by a touring memorial retrospective exhibition after his death a year later.