End of Tenure at Lee House (2015)

The impetus to work in painting is a singular conviction and necessarily contextualised by ‘when’ and ‘where’? The three thumbnail images above depict the first paintings in a series of seventeen works shown in the catalogue titled: ‘Fast Forward, Rewind and Walk On’. Electing to use printed matter seemed a more appropriate way to acknowledge the end of my tenure at Lee House in Peterlee (December 2015), a change brought about by the new landlord. The first part of the  catalogue essay references the importance of ‘place’ and is detailed below:

There is something very particular about making art work in a northern English town, Peterlee, inside a brutalist edifice called Lee House, a building that declares its status with utter conviction. Having worked in this studio for nearly two years the notice to quit was unwelcome. That said, this externally imposed imperative pushed me to discern the outcome of my visual intent, helped identify near misses and see new directions revealed through the process of making.

Peterlee owes its existence to the post war conviction to make new and better and was gifted its designation as a ‘new’ town in 1948. This appetite for positive social change was sustained in the UK throughout the 1950’s and celebrated in the exhibition titled: ‘This is Tomorrow’ (1956) at Whitechapel Gallery (London), emphatically declaring the intent to make a utopia for the present. The 1956 Exhibition marked a pivotal moment by involving the collaborative practice of thirty eight participants resolved as twelve groups, notably although not exclusively, including: Theo Crosby (group one), Richard Hamilton (group two), Eduardo Paolozzi and Alison & Peter Smithson (group six), Victor Pasmore (group seven) and Lawrence Alloway (group twelve). The manner and content of the iconic poster for the show: ‘Just What Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing’ by Richard Hamilton, is reassuringly progressive in its depiction. Hamilton working with a host of other artists, writers and architects aptly reflected the independence of mind that fueled momentum for the perpetual renewal of domestic living.

Peterlee today represents what could now be seen as a sustaining and sustainable ‘green’ living space albeit more recent additions and adornments to the housing stock come across as less respectful, perhaps even willfully blind, to the originating modernist ideal. Nonetheless the spirit of optimism given substance in the abstract work named as: ‘Apollo Pavilion’ (1969), is testimony to the modernist ambition of Victor Pasmore and remains in its original location in Peterlee with its significance acknowledged as a Grade II listed structure (2011). Regrettably the decision to confer listed status for ‘Pasmore’s Pavilion’ comes across as less than convincing for many local residents.’

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