Introduction to the Monster Club exhibition catalogue


The mirror and the werewolf
GRRR! I recall standing in front of the full length mirror in my parents bedroom wearing a brand new latex werewolf mask. Armed with a VHS camcorder and a friend, a script was started. The transformation scene was planned by a crude pause, record, pause, record method of live stop motion animation on the camcorder. I was obsessed with An American Werewolf in London when it startled me late on BBC1 in the mid 1980’s. Striking stills of the titled beast appeared in a Monsters of the Movies book, an M&S stocking filler, which further fuelled my fascination. My film never got made. I remember wearing my shop bought collection of monster masks at a school show and tell; I can’t remember the reaction. I was disappointed that within 10 years this mask became brittle and perished.

The painting at the top of the hill
It was a hot and heady walk up to the Miro Museum at the top of a hill called Montju├»c in Barcelona. Amongst the collection of other artists’ works, I was knocked back by the force and physical presence of the Phillip Guston painting which punched out at me out of the blue. It was one of his later figurative works, a bulbous, monstrous cartoon character animated within the greedy slabs of oil paint caked onto its magnetic picture surface. I had seen a full retrospective at the Royal Academy a few years before, but the pronounced impact of this experience was the unexpected encounter.

The returned
Without the patience to follow a route into film making or special effects, the immediacy and impulsiveness that can be a trait of painting suited my sensibility. I have painted monsters from my imagination and also paid homage to monsters of the movies. I have made films, documents of live performances, simple visual set ups dealing with time and repetition and forming a visual link to the painting. Thinking back I am struck by how prancing in front of the mirror as a boy has gradually evolved into a more serious business of developing an art practice. This process has moved into the academic sphere; finding connections with the writing of Freud and Kafka.

The monster makers
The artists bought together for this exhibition have created work that encompasses the idea of a monster. Their interest may be something innate and deeply rooted in perhaps a childhood passion for exploring or depicting a monster or masked character of some sort. It could be an interest in exploring fear, something scary, sinister or the uncanny, it could be humorous, absurd or fantastical. The monster could be a protector, not just a threat. Some of the artists tap into their passion for literary and cinematic monsters, fairy tale and folk stories. The Monsters in the show may be referential, metaphorical or allegorical. They are conjured up and imagined, they are a dip into the pool of childhood play and the grown up performance of art.

The Monster makers in this show come together from, Birmingham and Loughborough, London and Kolkata. They include young artists aged 8-16 from a local art club, long time practitioners, recent graduates and current students. Their monsters create a dialogue with themselves, the other monsters in the show and with you…

Paul Newman October 2014

Monster Club 

Launch event: Friday 7 November 4.30-8.30pm
Open daily from Sat 8 until Sun 16 November 2014
11 am - 5 pm Monday to Friday.
12 -5 pm Saturdays & 12 - 4 pm Sundays
Artist talk Sunday 16 November 2 pm

The Showcase & Works Galleries
Jubilee Trades Centre
130 Pershore Street
Birmingham B5 6ND

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