Patrick ‘Mad Dog’ Macaulay isn’t your typical retiree painter.
Patrick ‘Mad Dog’ Macaulay isn’t your typical retiree painter. Manchester born and bred, his late-blooming art career has fused with a life-long love of America and his years as an apprentice typesetter. The results are as weathered and iconic in appearance as the man himself. Shortly after his first solo show at 20/22 in the Northern Quarter, we tracked him down in the USA for a transatlantic email interview.
The Mad Dog story begins in Burnley 1944. It wasn’t an artistic household, except for a sizeable oil painting in the ”front” room. “It was of fishing boats landing on the shores in Brittany” says the man himself. “There were old biddies sitting at the foot of a stone cross and altar boys donned in cassocks ‘n’ such followed by a priest or perhaps a bishop in all of his finery with mitre atop. Where this piece came from I have no idea. No one in our neighbourhood had anything remotely like it.”
The youngest of five, Patrick’s father was a plumber, who died when he was three. One of his sisters died in surgery at the age of 6 before he was born and his eldest brother lost an eye to a stone thrown accidentally and spent a long time in hospital in Liverpool during the latter part of the war. But despite these tragedies, it was a happy childhood. Patrick lost himself in comics and films, American influences that flooded his fertile boyhood imagination and began to mould the man.
“When I wuz around maybe thirteen or so I’d seen adverts in the backs of magazines and comics fer cowboy boots – ‘n’ I wanted some, however it was not t’be. At around age maybe 15 or 16 I had an urge fer a white suit which was, seemingly, an outrageous idea t’be wearin’ such round som’ small grimey north of England backwater. I took m’self off by bus through the Todmorden valley t’Manchista the metropolis of the north and although I didn’t manage t’git white I did manage t’find a slightly off white, Italian style, pale grey suit. So . . . although I wasn’t strictly ‘arty’ there was a modicum of flamboyance.”
After narrowly avoiding a job in banking “as was mater’s wish” and an apprenticeship in butchery Patrick became an apprentice compositor, “following in the footsteps of Caxton, Guttenberg and the like. An amighty burden fer a kid from Burnley.” He rose to the challenge, and his appreciation for layout, typefaces, sizes and other aspects of printing have leapt from that time straight into his artworks today.