Tuesday is a very exciting day for the team at the gallery as it brings our latest exhibition, The Writing is on the Wall, by Horace Panter in association with the international writing brand Sheaffer. We wanted to find out a little more from Horace about his relationship with the arts and how he came about working with this iconic brand. Here’s what the man himself had to say…
“The idea of working alongside Sheaffer was very challenging; a few comfort zones had to be left behind so that’s no bad thing right from the off. I like a challenge.
‘Writing and Art’ had memories of time spent at Coventry’s Lanchester Polytechnic doing my degree course, being harangued by young exponents of Art Language – suit-wearing young revolutionaries carrying portable typewriters, constantly hectoring us into labyrinthine debates about the relevance of object making and vigorously proselytising conceptualism rather than ‘traditional’ art practice. Time, luckily, heals!
Writing, however, is a term used in two kinds of very different art, Iconography and Graffiti. Both are ‘written’ rather than painted, which is contrary to what is expected. I like contrary. Much of my own work is based on a contemporary interpretation of the traditional icon. To link the act of writing, and its artefacts, to painting was therefore an interesting brief. I was immediately drawn to the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: “The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on”. My initial thought was to include that in the painting, as introducing text into the painting was to be one of my core criteria.
Images of people in the act of writing were also considered, for example, the use of a pen in the signing of peace treaties, the use of a pen to officially end a conflict, the pen as artefact, the cultural history of the pen itself in its role in the development of language, communication and story-telling. Allying this to my interest in traditional iconography was only a short step.
Whilst on a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago I was struck by a series of triptychs and thought this would be a good format with which to construct my painting so that became the starting point. I set to work on the preliminary sketches in my hotel room whilst on tour in the USA with The Specials in February 2013. The two side-panels were relatively easy in terms of ideas and the central panel became a mixture of religious symbols; the hands and the Mandala-type motifs venerating the artefact and the act of writing. It was only after completing these stages and living with it for a while that I decided to include actual text.
I have used artist’s and art critic’s writing about art. I now have a painting about writing about painting. There are quotes dating back to the ancient Greeks as well as quotes from contemporary artists such as Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst.
The finished piece is a mixture of paint, collage and ink; the pens used are from the Sheaffer caligraphy range with home-made recipe of inks and thinned acrylic paint!”
The Writing is on the Wall opens on Tuesday 5th November and will be open to the public until the 10th. Don’t miss it!