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Artwork of the week

3rd December 2020

Monoprint of boys kissing

Boys Kiss (2020) - unique
Series of 7 Monoprints on Zerkall 145 gsm mould-made paper
4 deckle edges watermark in lower RH
54 x 76 cm

This series of mono prints took as its inspiration a drawing by the British artist Keith Vaughn (1912 - 1977) known chiefly for his semi-abstracted of male nudes and landscapes which often reflect his struggle with his own often unfulfilled homosexual desires. I first became interested in Vaughn at a talk at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester by curator, art historian and Vaughn expert Dr. Ian Massey.

A body of work, loosely titled ‘The Next Big Thing’ had been occupying me for much of this year, and I had started my first forays into painting. During the first lockdown (March - July this year) I used a number of Vaughn’s photographs (something for which he is less well-known, but equally skilled) as starting points for a number of paintings.

Monoprint (sometimes monotype) is a technique I often return to as a way of thinking out an idea and a way of ‘doing’ as opposed to thinking, enjoying the technique’s spontaneity and expressive qualities.

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12th November 2020

Three figures in an historical landscape

The Cruel Sister (2017)
Digital photograph on canvas
123 x 88 cm in antique frame

The Cruel Sister (2017) emerged as part of my year-long residency at Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre in 2017, which through exhibitions, curatorial interventions, live performances and participatory activity commemorated and explored the anniversaries of the Wolfenden Report, published in 1957 and the 1967 Sexual Offences Act.

The Cruel Sister by John Faed (1819 - 1902) is a great favourite with visitors to the gallery and one of many versions of the subject the artist produced, whilst the paint g in Bury’s collection is considered the definitive. Senior Curator Kat Au discussed the idea of ‘doing something’ with the work which might fit with the themes of my residency.

The painting, and my subsequent work uses the story of the two sisters, or the cruel sister, which appears throughout Europe in song and legend in slight variations:

There was a king with two daughters; one fair, one dark. A suitor comes and courts the fair sister. Whilst walking by a river, the dark sister in a fit of jealousy drowns her sister. The fair sisters body is found, and abused by a miller, and later retrieved from the river by a blind harpist who makes the body into a harp. The harpist is called to the court to play for the betrothal of the prince to the dark sister. The harp sings of it’s murder by her sister, whereupon the king and the prince bury the dark sister alive.

Kat introduced me to the work of Phil Sayers some of which is in Bury’s collection. Phil is a transvestite artist who performs feminine masquerade in photographic images often referencing art historical sources. Phil’s work provided us with the starting point for the creation of this new work.

Working with artists Ben Hosken-Jones Andreas Kolossa and photographer Daniel Walmsley We recreated the painting in a playful yet subversive way exploring the portrayal of gender and sexuality. The work was exhibited next to the original painting, and remains on long-term loan to Bury’s collection.

available artwork

Edition of 11 + 2 AP’s
Giclée print on canvas
Image 30.5 x 22, with individual bespoke frame 43 x 34 (approx)

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All work featured here is available to buy. Contact Jez for details

5th November 2020

Triptych of hearts

Sorrow Floats (2019)
Screenprint on Zerkall paper
cyan/yellow/black, cyan/magenta/yellow, yellow/black
edition of 11 of each colour
paper size 37.5 x 26 cm
Framed size: 50 X 37 cm

Prompted by an emotionally turbulent time at the latter end of 2018 in an attempt to distract myself with work, I started making a series of quickly executed mono-prints using a victorian illustration of a human heart as a starting point. The prints soon engulfed one wall of my studio. Cut forward to my NATUR residency in Reykjavik in 2018 - 19 and the heart drawings reappeared in the performance work I created 'Is He on the Line...?"

Working with analogue technology - Overhead projectors, the hearts provided the final image to the performance, where projected they took on an almost three-dimensional aspect.

Later in 2019 I re-visited the drawings and decided to transfer them into screenprints, playing with the colours in the projections of the original performance. Working with pigments as opposed to projected light produces different results, but I felt none the less dynamic. The heart floats in an open undefined space, separate and isolated.

The title comes from the novel Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving, read many years ago and remembered in a different context. Sorrow in the novel was a taxidermied dog.

All artworks featured on this page are available to buy. Contact Jez

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29th October 2020

screenprint with Polari text

A Polari Etymology According to a Diagrammatic by Alfred H. Barr (1936)
Screenprint on Somerset Velvet paper (280 gsm)
Edition of 33 (plus 4 AP’s) paper size 76 x 56 cm

The form of this work uses a diagram created by Alfred H. Barr, founder of MOMA New York, and used for the catalogue cover for the ground-breaking exhibition ‘Cubism & Abstract Art’ in 1936. Barr’s diagram supposedly justifies the predominance of abstract art as a natural and inevitable progression from the late 19th century to the 1930’s. At the time Barr’s ideas were considered as gospel - indeed these ideas continue to dominate some extent, as the first real proponent of the white cube as the space in which to exhibit contemporary art. My personal take on a Polari etymology is, I suspect, as full of mistakes, blind alleys and irrelevancies as Barr’s original.

Previously exhibited:The John Rylands Library Manchester, Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre,The Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery,The People’s History Museum

Collections: Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre,The Government (UK) Art Collection,The Leslie Lohman Museum NYC,The Walker Art Gallery Liverpool (purchased via The Art Fund), private collections in the UK and USA

All artworks featured on this page are for sale. For details contact Jez

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22nd October 2020

Football player / gay / sauna / gay porn

Euroby 29 - 1992 (2020)
Screenprint on vintage magazine page in bespoke frame
40.5 x 31.5 x 3 cm
Unique part of a limited set of 33

"Many things in the world have not been named; and many things, even if they have been named have never been described"

This quote from Susan Sontag's seminal 1964 Essay "Notes on Camp" continues:

"One of these is the sensibility - unmistakably modern, a variant of sophistication, but hardly identical with it - that goes by the cult name of "Camp".

This series utilises pages from vintage gay porn magazines, chiefly the UK soft porn title "Euroboy" (published mid 1980's - 90's)

During the initial stages of thinking about these new works and attempting to research the photographers I discovered via American writer Dennis Cooper's blog the wonderfully titled '21 unlucky gay porn stars' the story of Steve Cadro (as above) who in 2000 was stabbed 50 times by a former model. Hungarian Cadro was perhaps best known for his 2000 film HUNGarians.

All artworks featured on this page are for sale. Please contact Jez

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15th October 2020

Muscular Bodybuilder Gay Queer

Catalog 34 Frank Lombardo (orange / red) (2013)
Screenprint on Fabriano paper
100 x 70 cm
Edition of 7
Editions in green / red, grey / silver and orange / red (as above)

This series of three works was made in 2013 as part of the initial phase of my research into Polari. I discovered the original photograph in the Hall Carpenter Archive at the LSE in London (The archives, founded in 1982 are the largest source for the study of gay activism in the UK and are named after Marguerite Radclyffe Hall and Edward Carpenter).

The photograph, which is undated shows a muscular young man executing a number of ‘body builder’ type poses. Photographs such as these were offered for sale in ‘physique’ magazines in the UK and USA many of which used the cover of body building / physical culture to picture almost naked you men. The classified advertisements also contained adverts for ‘penpals’ interested in photography and physical culture. These magazines pre-dated any openly gay publications in either country.

First exhibited at The John Rylands Library Manchester (2013)

All artworks featured on this page are for sale. Please contact Jez

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8th October 2020

Screenprint with text & floral tribute

Ornament for a Summer's Day (2012)
Screenprint on Somerset Satin 300 gsm paper
Paper size 76 x 56 cm, framed 88 x 69 cm
Edition of 9

"He likes me, I know he likes me. Of course I flatter him dreadfully. I find a strange pleasure in saying to him things I know I shall be sorry for having said. As a rule he is charming to me and we sit and talk of a thousand things. Now and then however he is horribly thoughtless and seems to delight in giving me pain. Then I feel that I have given my whole soul to someone who treats it as if it were a flower to put in his coat, a bit of decoration to charm his vanity, and ornament for a summer's day."

Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

This work is part of a series from 2012 called Tributes. The first part of the project was a series of photographs of queer people in Manchester, each photographed with a floral funeral tribute, which rather than saying 'MUM', DAD' or 'GRAN' used terms of homophobic abuse: 'QUEER', FAGGOT', 'NANCY' etc.

The prints, a series of three, each take a detail of a photograph of one of the floral tributes as they decayed in my garden, and a quotation which had been close to me for some time. The quote from Dorian Gray (a book which I re-read once a year) resonated from my days of first falling in (teenage) love.

This work is dedicated to Duncan MacGregor

First exhibited at 20 x 22 Manchester in 2012

All artworks featured on this page are for sale. Please contact Jez

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1st October 2020

Drawing with charcoal & graphite

The first 'Artwork of the week' is Diary Drawing No. 10 (2015) charcoal & graphite on paper 100 x 70 cm

The Diary drawings were made during 2014 - 15 following an Arts Council funded research visit to the Harry Ransom Centre, at the University of Texas, Austin. Jez was researching the archive of George Cecil Ives (1867 - 1950), who in addition to being a poet and significant penal reformer founded 'The Order of Chaeronea' (1892?) the world's first (and highly secretive) homosexual society. Ives kept a daily diary from the age of 19 until six months before his death at 82, which runs to 122 volumes.

The society was named after the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC) where the armies of Alexander, including the famed band of Theban Brothers (thought to be formed of couples of homosexual lovers who would fight to their deaths).

Ives met Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas in 1892 who became members of the society. Ives frequently mentions Oscar and Bosie in the diaries, often in code, and was a part of their circle between 1892 and the Wilde trials of 1895.

Ives writes in his diaries after attending the premiere of The Importance of Being Earnest (14th February 1895), and much to his amusement, his address B.4, The Albany, Piccadilly London was used in the play as Jack Worthing's London address. At the time The Albany was the most desired address for a Victorian bachelor about town.

Ives considered this date as significant in the foundation of 'The Higher Cause' (i.e. homosexual rights) and dated his new calendar to start in 338 BC (the year 2020 in Ives' calendar is 2358).

Each of the Diary Drawings (currently to No. 17) takes two or three pages of Ives diary and copies them as closely as possible, whist repeating the text until it becomes illegible in an exercise in self-redaction.

Ives viewed his diaries as the 'buried monument to himself' although sadly he and his diaries remain little known.

Today (October 1st) is the anniversary of George Cecil Ives birth.

All works featured on this page are available to purchase. Please contact Jez

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