Richard Walker: Rip It Up & Start Again
Posted by Charlotte Broomfield on 09th December 2013
‘There was a brief and very exciting period in the mid 1970s when King's Road, Chelsea was the coolest destination for young people wanting something new and urgent.The term 'Punk' was yet to be invented, but from '75 onwards there was something in the air and things were about to get edgy. 1976 - my world catches fire. Romantic ideals meet trash culture. Punky reggae party. Fashionable Chelsea. A smashing time. Out on the town. Putting it about. Minsky’s Gallery 1978 - one/man show business.’ - Richard Walker
Sandra Higgins is pleased to present, Rip It Up and Start Again, a sneak preview show featuring the iconic works of the British artist Richard Walker. This show is an opportunity to view a selection of Walker’s 1970’s works which form part of a larger exhibition scheduled for the Spring of 2014 which will celebrate the British ‘Punk’ legacy. Walker’s work successfully transports its viewers back to the wild anarchic spirit of ‘punk’ only moments away from where it all erupted on the Kings Road.
Punk was an international movement. For example, in downtown 70’s New York, crowds of the young, provocative and rebellious gathered at the music club CBGB to see performances by the likes of Patti Smith, Blondie and The Ramones. ï¿¼Walker’s work marks an eruption of extraordinary creative expression, which burst onto international cultural scenes of the 70’s. The original screen prints, produced between 1975 and 1978, celebrate the provocative and edgy spirit within which they were made. Walker’s prints are ‘cheeky and irreverent, bright and bold’. The overlapping imagery, experimental dynamic angles and rapid markings mirror the provocative and rebellious character of ‘punk’. His prints reject the vision of society as uniform and humdrum and work to translate an energetic and revolutionary time something that was experienced internationally, but also personally by Walker. ‘There was a DIY spirit emerging and these works images are actually the “genuine articles” of a pre-digital era that foresaw the insane times we now live in’.
Rise Art asks Richard 3 questions.
1. What does 'Punk' mean to you in 3 words?
Three words...as the show title says, RIP IT UP or maybe TEAR IT DOWN. I was always about revolution and change.
2. How has Camberwell Arts College changed since you studied there as a student to returning as a lecturer?
When I was a student at Camberwell, I was a bit of a rebel. The course was very old fashioned and traditional. A few of us shook it up in the final year and I put up a fairly controversial show. It paid off and I got offered a job teaching printmaking the next term. I taught at Camberwell for the next 10 years but then gave it up, as too many students were stealing my ideas!
3. You talk a lot about 'place' (King's Road in particular) as a catalyst for culture and your own artistic inspiration. Where do you think is the pivotal place for culture and as a result artistic expression in London in 2013?
London is now very fragmented, and due to social networking you can hear about events scattered across the city in a short period of time, so there is not one area that is 'the place to be'. There are many now. In the 70s I didn't even have a phone or a TV, so you had to follow your nose, or just take a chance on a venue or event. There was always the possibility that you'd be the only person there!
Round the corner from Gallery Petit, on the Kings Road in London, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren launched the legendary boutique ‘SEX’, a cutting-edge ‘punk’ alternative to the regimented social norms. ‘Rip It Up and Start Again’ pays homage to these cultural icons; his prints poke fun at the quintessential moments and famous personas of Britain on the cusp of an anti-gossip movement. The images feature 70‘s symbols such as Patti Smith and Bianca Jagger, they playfully mock a celebrity culture whereby the love life of Princess Margaret became a subject of babble and hearsay.
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