Thompson explains: "All took place in the same location, the same backfields and alleyways I would escape to - either with friends or alone. Hiding in the trees or long grass (stalking, secretive behaviour), building dens (in which to prepare for battle, to decorate with pornography), under-age smoking, drugs; or just ambling and wandering in search of that elusive species of bird, never found."
The first room of the exhibition features postcard-sized paintings of blossoming hawthorns, country lanes and scrub illuminated by sunlight. The second room features his affecting world war one pictures. Thompson discovered that war poets Wilfred Owen and Edward Thomas trained at the then-rural Romford, along with artists Paul and John Nash. His images of soldiers are surrounded by white, as if eternity is closing in, while the hand-written crosses inked above the heads (my granddad did the same on his war pictures to indicate his position) look like flying birds.
This being old Essex (now technically part of London), there's also a more literal use of the term "birds" on a couple of pictures featuring scraps of old porn mags, the forbidden fare found in the woods and taken to adolescent dens (shades of Ian Dury's song Razzle In My Pocket here).
It's well worth a look and my wife Nicola, who knows about art, enjoyed it too. The exhibition runs until July 9 and has an interesting library accompanying it. I enjoyed thumbing through Michael Foley' Front-line Essex and reading about the important role my childhood haunts of Warley Common and Warley Barracks played in Britain's wartime history.
Barry Thompson — Fistful of Blood and Feathers, is at Peer, 97-99 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6QL. June 2-July 9. For more details click on the link.
|Nicola, bowled over by the artworks, reads about about wartime Romford|