"I first met John in early 1980's and through working together I began to learn about the power of art and creativity.
Learning to view the world and opportunities in a different way". Robert Morrall
Born in 1928 in Atlanta, John Kollock is an example of an artist driven by a passion for his local area of North Georgia and the importance of creativity in society. John was educated at the University of Georgia and has worked in art all of his professional life, as a commercial artist, book illustrator and fine artist. John’s first love has always been the country life around his families home place in the North East Georgia mountains.
In the early 1960’s John started a personal project to capture the look and feel of his part of North East Georgia before it disappears. Working in watercolour and line art, John has preserved what he knew as a child of the local farm life and historical sites. John’s writings causally wander from history to nostalgia in an effort to capture more than bare facts, to capture the essence of the area and rural life in the Blue Ridge.
From early beginnings’ with a commission for a series of painting for a local Burger King , John Kollock has developed both National (USA) and international fame, with his paintings having been exhibited in the White House. His Water colour painting can now be seen in many public and private collections, including those of a former President and several Governors.
John Kollock is a story teller in watercolour. He paints pictures as a reaction to something that has spoken to him - a time of day; an expressive moment of a human or animal; a remembered situation or location; the weather or time of year; or to relive a period of history set in a present day location. When finished, if the painting also tells his story to someone else then he feels he has succeeded in passing along a bit of ‘God's magic’.
John brought up his family in an simple sharecroppers home, near Clarkesville (Georgia), originally a very tumbled down old 1880 farm house, surrounded by chickens, ducks, cats, dogs and an abundance of natural beauty. Here, in spite of the cold weather and bad heating, John managed to do his art and writing. Largely with his own hands and effort, John has developed at the end of a long gravel driveway an old English Village, acting as a catalyst for local art and cultural activities.
One of John Kollock’s most interesting projects has been the conversion of the old North East Georgia Town of Helen into a tourist resort. By blending his creativity and artistic flair with a commercial skill, John was in in part responsible for the saving of this community.
John passed away on Monday10th March 2014, aged 85. An individual who could see the world around him in differing ways, creative for the fun of it, never looking for credit.
“John Kollock is a true Georgia treasure; no person has better expressed the beauty of North Georgia and the character of its people. From the beauty of a mountain sunset to the quiet peace of springtime mountain mornings, John Kollock brings to life the joy and challenges of life in the North Georgia Mountains.”
Zell Miller. Lt. Governor, State of Georgia, USA.
Meg’s World is not only for children, but it’s a book for everyone who loves children.
Inspired by chance remarks spilled forth at a rapid rate from the mind of his 4yr old daughter, John Kollock was inspired to jot down the quotations and eventually string them together into the World of Meg.
It is a warm, friendly world, reminiscent of many things we like to remember about our children’s early days, before they sprang forth into school.
Johns paintings are often filled with the world of children.
It is thorough their continual discovery of the world around them, that he keeps alert to the adventure of living that we tend to lose sight of as we grow older.
John often remarked: “If you want to really see the world, go walk with a child”.
CREATIVITY IN ACTION - THE STORY OF HELEN
John Kollock was a key part of a project which through the use of creative thinking and approaches, turned a dying American town in North East Georgia into a thriving tourist destination.
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Chattahoochee River, this Northeast Georgia village has a rich history linked to the Cherokee Indians and Indian burial mounds as well as early settlers who arrived to mine for gold and cut virgin timber for a thriving lumber industry in the early 1900s.
Helen however, had a problem by the late 1960’s. It was dying and local businessmen started to explore what could be done to save their town.
It was late in 1968 when businessman, Pete Hodkinson, approached local artist, John Kollock for suggestions for painting or decorating the towns buildings to create tourist interest.
John already had an idea that had been in the back of his mind from his days in the army when he was stationed in Bavaria. While in Germany, John had made many sketches of Alpine villages and was fascinated with the similarity of the landscape to the North Georgia Mountains. The difference was in the trim, detail and colours of the buildings.Something about those buildings transmitted an excitement to walk among them and made everyday events seem like a vacation. "How great," he thought, "if there could be some spot in our mountains that could reflect this image for the vacationer."
John photographed the whole business section of Helen and within a week presented a series of water colour sketches of what the face of Helen would look like in Alpine style. Early in January 1969 with the blessing of local business people, townsmen and local carpenters began turning ideas into reality.
Helen has experienced tremendous growth over the last four decades. The tiny city had been planned as a small business centre, but the success of Helen's business model began to draw larger corporations interested in locating in the booming tourism centre. Thirty years ago large chains were discouraged from locating in the town. Today it is hard to walk very far without seeing a well-known franchise, from the Wendy's downtown to the Hampton Inn on quiet River Road.
The difference a year makes, the top picture of Helen was taken in 1968 and the same street above in 1969.
By 1970 when Helen introduced its first Oktoberfest festival, John Kollock’s design concept had succeeded and large numbers of tourists were coming to Helen.