In this painting, the adults are moving about like heavy metal rock stars kicking up mayhem on a stage only instead of carrying guitars they are carrying children. This from from a photo in a newspaper of the bombing of a mental hospital during the Lebanese war.
I grew up on a housing estate near Bloxwich. Not far away from the estate was a disused coal mine with a railway, and a huge slag heap where I used to go exploring, hoping not to get caught by any caretaker. I did a sketch, and I tried to turn it into something to impress the tutors at Walsall School of Art in Goodall street. It did not get any further than sketchbook work
John Briscoe came from a large mining family and they lived in Cannock. Three of his brothers usually referred to as Ted, Bet and Tone are in this painting. They were sadly born mentally backward as I was always told. They lived in a row of houses I believe was built by the mine owners for their workers. They were old and negleted houses, dark and dusty. Johns father died of cancer, I saw him lieing on his bed in the small living room, I saw him in there, one side of his body was turning blue. John was overcome by grief but could not face it and he got a group of us from Art school to go to Paris with him hoping to forget his troubles, his father died around this time but John was stoical about it. This is not the end of the Briscoe tragedy. His mother died of breast cancer and his three brothers, Ted Bet and Tone had no one to care for them. Once at the bus station in Walsall I saw one of the brothers walking by in the night, angry looking and alone.
John was a brilliant artist. He was the talk of Walsall art school, flambouyant and full of life. His art work was creative and effortlessly brilliant. He could turn his gift for creativity from sculpture to pottery at ease. But he had an accident on e day and stabbed himeself in the eye, and lost his sight in that eye. This fault of all his tradgedy I firmly place on the neglect of the coal mining owners in Cannock who didn’t seem to do anything to help this poor, poor family. There were two other children one Tom Briscoe who got married, and the oldest who I only heard about by heresay.
These are some of the Drawings in pastel and oil wash I did of my flat mate Paul. Paul was from Manchester or Salford. He had completed a Degree in art at Wolverhampton University. His room in the flat was completely taken over to his art.
Paul’s twin brother came to visit him. His brother wears glasses, while Paul favoured contact lenses. They were in Pauls studio/flat when I took this photo.
The sheep’s skull belonged to Paul and I would borrow it from time to time to make a drawing. Among the pictures on his wall you can see one of his own drawings of it. He apparently found it in a field presumably somewhere near his home place of Manchester or Salford.
These are oil paintings and oil pastels I made of Cheri. I bumped into her in a bar in Whitechapel and we became friends. She was an American living in Romford Street, Whitechapel, east London. Also an artist, we put up an shared exhibition in her flat and everyone came. She of course had a siamese cat.
She once insisted that I spell her name right. It’s not Sherry, or Cherry but Cheri.
To explain. I began with an idea of making a clay head from one of Vincent Van Gogh’s portraits. But then it seemed to develop a life of its own. I added a cloth and a wooden crate as a pedestal than I made a series of drawings from the sculpture because the sculpture was so vulnerable to destruction.
Made by drawing experimental criss crossing curvy lines and then looking for things. This became “White dove of peace; lord of the jungle”
The white dove of peace is King of the jungle
High in the canopy she judges the beasts.
The white dove of peace can call herself a king if she so desires and who can change her mind. I am down in the jungle and it is teeming with wild beasts. The white dove of peace sits high above us all spreading her wings and singing.
The bad dreams have ended but my legs are still asleep
I need to be comforted by the white dove of peace.
One beast is suffering from nightmares and on waking up feels paralyzed. So, he calls to the white dove of peace for help. She sings to him and drives the terrors out of his heart.
This became, “Prehistoric man with a herd of animals”
There are two studies I made for a painting of Ethiopian refugees of the 1980 period. The painting was brought by a friend who took it with him when he returned to live in West Africa. These are all I have left of the project.