Creatabot

Creatabot is a project that connects, promotes and supports creativity. Based in Medway, UK. Additional projects include CreataboX and Urban Medway.

Billy Childish – Frozen Estuary Exhibition – Review

Cult labels can obscure the viewer’s perspective of the artist’s work, with associations of niche celebrity given meaning by sycophantic fans and media observers. Childish is touted as a ‘cult’ figure in his latest exhibition at Chatham dockyard. This could scream popular or ‘cool’ to the ‘right’ people or celebrate an alternative and underground status. Childish’s character(s) loom large, set on pleasing themselves before courting the crowd, perhaps at the risk of eclipsing his work. In a 2010 video for the Tate’s ‘Sound and Vision’ series, he dons the costumes of painter and musician to playfully interview himself, with respectably awkward questions. When the artist asks about his influence on the musician, the answer is ‘no’ followed by a wistful smile.

The frozen estuary series offers something pleasantly different. The dockyard exhibition gives some space to history and personal mythologising – displays of album covers, books and memorabilia to greet the audience. Maybe this is a triumphant return to a place he left with little love lost.

13 oil and charcoal on linen paintings cover the main walls, some with the paint still wet. Despite featuring friends and family, the subject seems less personal, the focus is the river itself, depicted in vivid blues and whites and frozen in time and canvas. Inspired by photos of the winters of 1895 and 1947 when both estuaries froze over, Childish captures a stark landscape, where workers pose with boats locked in ice, dominated by blue skies and glaring white. Details run in earthy browns, a muck upon the landscape, as wet paint dribbles down many of the canvases, forming icicles of dirt and snow.

Here is something about place rather than person, escaping the ‘cult’ cliché and exploring the relationships between time, place and identity. A full size nude stands by the entrance, leading visitors through the memorabilia to something else entirely. Something brave.

The exhibition is on at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, until 30th September 2012. Details are available at: http://www.thedockyard.co.uk/NetsiteCMS/pageid/1023/Billy%20Childish.html

By Roy Smith

@roy_smith 

www.royalansmith.co.uk

Guest Writer

Area:   UK   Britain   East of England   East Midlands   London  North East   North West    Yorkshire    Scotland South East    South West    Wales   West Midlands  
About these ads

One comment on “Billy Childish – Frozen Estuary Exhibition – Review

  1. fiwa43
    10/06/2012

    Astounded and very moved by this exhibition. A powerful, distilled presence, a timeline of not just the artist that we know in portraits of himself and his family but of this place – Chatham, the Medway and most of all the Dockyard itself. Haunting and proud.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,142 other followers

%d bloggers like this: