I am a Sheffield based painter, working from the top floor of an old steelworks in the industrial hinterland. Self-taught, I am drawn to paint, delighting in its subtleties and possibilities, and use it to create visual narratives, world’s for the eye to explore and roam around. This is slow art, inspired by the untold stories of industrial labor, by the relics that lie abandoned memento to our past endeavor, and the myths of our emergence. I see sublimity in the slow reclaiming of our decay and in the dichotomies of our dualism. My painting is an expression of the hard edged beauty, humor and occasionally tragedy I see around me, and my reaction to it.
Using heavy bodied acrylic paint on self made canvasses I generally paint in the earths that we have carved this world from, and the acid tints that we have overlaid it with. Sometimes blues abound, sometimes it is the umbers, ochres and siennas of the mineral bearing rocks around me. I work to themes, producing series of paintings as elements of the exhibition that is the end goal. Mostly I paint with knives, working wet, mixing color on the canvas, sculpting the paint and building texture from the interaction between the layers of new and drying paint. Sometimes I add raw earths, slate, coal and shale, sawdust and wood shavings, grass and twigs, steel turnings and cardboard to my canvasses and my paint, and these are often materials drawn from the industry I am referencing. My paintings evolve, and with them the stories they hint at, as I aim to create worlds for the minds eye to wander and wonder about.
Exhibiting is a key part of my practice, and I stage annual shows, some of which I have taken touring. I love to explore the concept of the exhibition/installation, with all works players on a stage. My most recent show in this vein was ‘For those in peril’, comprising 25 paintings, 3 sculptures and a self created ambient audio overlay that collectively told the tale of the merchant sailors engaged on the Arctic Convoy runs of 1941-45. I have also produced a book of this exhibition.
All images ©John Wilkinson
An Edge of Humanity Magazine Project
CURATOR | Joelcy Kay