25th March - 15th April 2011
Artists: Christopher Chapman, Clement Griffith, Susan Herivel, Philip Hood, Terence Howe, Pauline Jones, Gerry Keon, Margaret Kirschen, John Pearce, John Richter, Timothy Wilson
When the eleven artists in this exhibition were students, the Beatles, Flower Power, and the Hornsey Art School ‘sit in’ were yet to come, and Edith Sitwell, Picasso and Jean Paul Sartre were alive. Despite student grants and a welfare state, what with the Cold War, the ‘Four Minute Warning’ and the Cuban Missile Crisis, they didn’t think they’d see 60.
Born in the shadow of war, and in the confused aftermath of early twentieth century Modernism, their formative influences lay in the challenges of abstraction and figuration. But as each passing decade brought successive art movements, they lived to see painting itself sidelined or reduced to an instruction manual, and sculpture to an empty plinth.
Leaving Art College, they subsidised their own art practice – not, as in the present artistic climate, by pursuing state support or corporate funding while piously disdaining art as a commodity, but as teachers, glass blowers, picture restorers, sign painters, illustrators or park-keepers. One worked first as a water bailiff in Scotland, then on a trawler off the coast of Senegal. They had characteristically enquiring minds, and travelled, usually by bus, to Egypt, Turkey, the Soviet Union, and Mongolia.
John Pearce, who has brought together this group of long-lost colleagues and old friends now in their 60s who were at Art School in the early 1960s, was impressed by the way they had continued their artistic practice throughout fifty years of political, personal and artistic crises, and the exhibition tries to account for this sustained motivation, presenting their artistic testimonies alongside their work.
The exhibition includes some astonishing, hitherto unseen early pieces, particularly reflecting the urban environment and humanity within it.
Islington Arts Factory Exhibition Archive