John Kindness: An English Interior
08 October 2008 - 31 December 2008
The painted interior is as old as art itself. In English domestic interiors, especially from the eighteenth century onwards, hand-painted paper was often the successor to tapestries or panelling. Patterns were the most usual form but often whole scenes were represented. Borders, originally used to hide tacks that held the wallpaper in position, became important because they could visually alter a room's proportions. Many were printed to look like architectural features or picture frames, to add grandeur to the room. Often, they outlined doors and windows or details such as a fireplace.
John Kindness’s installation took its immediate appearance from this tradition but his wallpaper becomes like the pages of a marvellous book that invites us into a series of re-tellings of stories by two masters of graphic art.
William Hogarth was the first English artist to make comedy central to much of his work and his satirical prints are often referred to as the precursors of comic strips. His engravings were so popular and images so often stolen that Hogarth lobbied for the Copyright Act of 1735 to protect writers and artists.
Here, scenes from his engravings alternate with images of Desperate Dan of The Dandy comic, at its peak of popularity from the 1930s to the 1960s, and still published today.
Dudley Watkins who created Desperate Dan and William Hogarth who gives us our definitive image of eighteenth century London, are among Kindness’s artistic mentors; “...they both have a genius for turning total chaos into brilliant pictorial order.”
Kindness has designed his borders in what appears to be the conventional vine scroll pattern. In fact it, too, is a restoration of chaos into order. The design derives from lace patterns interleaved with elements taken from photographs of rubbish dredged from the River Lee in Hackney.
There will also be original works by Dudley Watkins on display, rarely available to the public kindly loaned by DC Thomson the Scottish publishers who produced the Dandy comic books in which Desperate Dan appeared. The Dandy and Desperate Dan both celebrated their seventieth year in 2010. Morris Heggie, the Editor of the Dandy from 1986 to 2006 summed up the comic strip character saying, “Desperate Dan was beyond strong, he was a force of nature, yet he had a great innocence. One morning he would defeat the massed Apaches with a frying pan, the next he would have trouble shaving”.
For information on John Kindness’s earlier work, see www.johnkindness.co.uk
Gill Hedley, Curator
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