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Parliament approves Hook’s Freedom of the City

Parliament yesterday unanimously passed a motion granting local artist Christian Hook the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar in view of his “magnificent accomplishments and successes” in the arts world internationally.
Government and Opposition paid tribute to this young artist recalling many personal anecdotes of a “proud Gibraltarian” who lives and works locally and remains very much a part of this community. Their contributions reflected the high esteem with which this artist is held locally.
Speaker of the House Adolfo Canepa, congratulating the artist having signed the certificate of the Medallion of Honour which will also be presented to him on Sunday on board the Queen Victoria Cruise Ship, declared “the motion is carried by acclamation”. Mr Hook will be conferred the Freedom of the City this Sunday on board the ship where his works are currently on show.
The motion was originally moved by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo who recalled the moment he watched Christian Hook win the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014.
“I felt just like when I saw Kaiane (today’s Mayor) won Miss World. It really was extraordinary world beating Gibraltarian achievement which actually happened.”
Describing the artist as “a great Gibraltarian talent” he added how his talent had been internationally recognised in such a short period of time.
“His talent is remarkable and unique.”
Everyone locally he said had known of his talent for many years. And on a personal note he recalled his own school days when he sat next to this young boy during art class and who was already showing signs of great talent.
“His accomplishments and level of acclaim have reached new heights in the last few years and these are indeed remarkable,” he emphasised.
“Aren’t I pleased I bought one of them (painting) before he won the Sky Artist Portrait of the Year,” he added.
“Not many people can say their works are included in the most important private collections, museums and galleries.”
“This tremendous accomplishment makes him a major artistic presence.”
But Mr Picardo highlighted the fact that despite him being in high demand Mr Hook never forgets Gibraltar and that he is from the Rock, “and that is one of the things what makes Christian different from so many and a true Gibraltarian.”
It was, insisted Mr Picardo, only right and proper that we recognise Christian’s efforts, his professional attainment and achievement.
The Leader of the Opposition Daniel Feetham supporting the sentiments expressed by all who had contributed to the motion pointed out that all of Gibraltar shared “a sense of pride about his achievements”. Proud, he that he is from “My home town” which allows all Gibraltarians a sense of ownership that makes one feel proud of his achievements internationally.
Mr Feetham also gave a mention to Mr Hook’s family and stated that “this accolade could not have happened to nicer people than the Hook family”.
First to speak for the Opposition was Shadow Culture spokesman Edwin Reyes who recognised Mr Hook as an “extraordinary Gibraltarian”. He recalled Christian as a young boy in Varyl Begg who from an extremely young age had a special talent.
“I am really glad he put it to good use and made a career out of it,” he said whilst adding that when Mr Hook returned as a teacher to Westside “our students had the benefit as an art teacher – and the ladies were really lucky.”
Mr Hook he said followed in the footsteps of Gustavo Bacarisa – who was also given the Freedom of the City and suggested that one of his paintings should also hang in the Mayor’s Palace in the City Hall next to that of Bacarisa.
Mr Reyes also “lucky enough to own one of his paintings” said he was very proud of the fact that at no time had Mr Hook shied away from being “a son of Gibraltar” and would continue to put Gibraltar on the map.
Culture Minister Steven Linares described Mr Hook as a role model and a person that every single young Gibraltarian should follow because it “gives a lot of motivation to young people that we as Gibraltarians can reach the heights that Christian has attain.”
Mr Linares spoke of the artist having submitted work regularly to local exhibitions and having achieved top awards in a number of them. As a result the Ministry of Culture is in possession of a good number of his works which today form part of the Gibraltar Collection. He suggested there may be an exhibition of these works at some time in the future.
MP Marlene Hassan Nahon also felt spoke with great pride endorsing this “prestigious accolade for this modern master”.
Offering an insight into his credentials as an artist highlight his diverse talent and skill and unique way of painting she said could only be achieved by a true virtuoso.
Sitting alongside the greats of Gibraltar (Bacarisa, Azagury) she added, “Hook is not just with these great artists but is also compared to Picasso and other world celebrated artists. Therefore there is no doubt or question as to the merit of Christian Hook’s Freedom of the City Award.”
Government Minister Samantha Sacramento declared herself a longstanding fan of the artist and described how she had seen his style develop in a unique style and outstanding quality of the work.
At the age of 12 or 13 she recalled how she had walked into an art gallery and had been struck by a portrait he had painted.
“Like every other Gibraltarian I have been following Christian’s progress… we have always known about his outstanding talent.”
She spoke of him as being both “lovely and humble” and of giving of his time to the community especially through his involvement in the Gibraltar/Milan exhibition when he worked with the service users at St Bernadette’s Resource Centre and his involvement in the literary festival last.
Having been invited to his recent Clarendon exhibition, she also added, how she had felt overwhelmingly proud as a Gibraltarian to have experienced this.
Government Minister Albert Isola admitted he did not know Mr Hook well but what had struck him was at the stage in his life he had achieved such success which at such a young age was really remarkable. ]It is absolutely right that even at sunch a young age Parliament was granting him the Freedom of the City because of “his exceptional ability and talent” and “his complete commitment to Gibraltar and its people.”
Opposition member Roy Clinton emphasised how today we had an opportunity to recognise his talent and a living artist who “we can see at work” today.
Mr Clinton highlighted that the contributions from both side of the House were significant in that: “Christian has not forgotten his roots, he has not opened his workshop in Mayfair, he is quite locally based and is there to be seen at work and his work is still being done in Gibraltar and for that he should be commended.”
The Freedom of the City, he added, was “a unique opportunity for Gibraltar and this House to recognise a living artist.”

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