It seems almost mad that close on 6 months have gone by since I first announced on this blog that I would be holding a brand new solo exhibition of paintings, illustrations and prints in London’s Strand Gallery this May. And yet here we are, with the exhibition on the doorstep. In 7 days, my exhibition, which will feature over 100 displayed artworks and a whole lot more other artworks for sale, will throw open its doors to the prestigious West End of London. A mere 50 metres from London’s Strand, the exhibition is in the heart of the city’s colourful Covent Garden/ Charing Cross area, and frankly I could not think of a better location.
So as excitement builds, the bubble wrapping goes into overdrive, frames are attached, price lists drawn up and champagne gathered, I thought I would take time to explore some of the themes and artworks which will feature in the show on each of the 7 days approach to the exhibition’s opening on 13 May.
The exhibition is entitled When (S)pain became the Norm, a title which represents the three main themes which will run through the collection – Pain: the time of my 2008 road traffic accident and the protracted convalenscence which followed; Spain: how this most colourful of European countries has given rise to some of my most exciting and energetic artworks; and the Norms: all my paintings and illustrations of the small white-blobbed one-armed creation of my imagination, most of which have featured on this blog which is named after that same unique character.
In this first post, I am sharing the painting which really kickstarts the whole collection. Entitled Bricks and Stones may Break My Bones (The Show Must Go On), it was the first painting I started in the weeks immediately following the horrendous accident in which I was involved in May 2008. On 29 May 2008, I was walking out to buy some lunch when a lorry, without warning, collided with a 10 ft concrete brick wall which then collapsed onto the pavement as I walked by. I was caught under the rubble and serious crush fractures sustained to my right leg. Frankly, I was lucky to get away with just that. The injuries were so severe that I had to have my leg placed in an external fixator – a horrific instrument attached to the leg with a series of a bloody pins – and I underwent some 7 operations over 3 years before the leg was finally healed, sufficiently, to such a level that I could walk once again.
This painting, which is perhaps one of the most visceral and uncomfortable of my collection, represents the accident itself. I am shown, in self-portrait, morphed into the wall which had by that time become an inescapable factor in my life. Crashed into it, a small toy lorry is beside me, while on my head, like a crown of thorns, is the barbed wire which ran along the wall and collapsed down upon me in turn. My broken leg is shown as a column broken into three pieces, reminiscent of a similar representation used by my idol, Frida Kahlo, while my crutches are propping up my right food Dali-style since, which, owing to nerve damage, otherwise flopped involuntarily to the floor. Meanwhile over the bleak landscape, the pins which pierced my leg pierce the ground, and on the right, a theatrical proscenium arch likewise propped up by a crutch and a swollen leg demonstrates that despite all of the horror around me, the show had to go on: Something demonstrated by the fact that I was up on two chairs, my leg outstretched, painting this powerful work.
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