Richard Creme: The Paintings / Curation

We worked on this exhibition in close collaboration with Richard, his wife Shelley, Chris Larkin from the Stroke Association, and Clive Parkinson from Arts For Health. It was part of a Stroke awareness month and also the first major event for the newly re-branded Stroke Association.

Richard Creme paintings in the Link Gallery:

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Curators’ Statement for the Richard Creme exhibition:

We are extremely privileged to be able to curate this exclusive show. Richard Creme ran the incredibly successful L’Homme fashion boutique in Manchester until he had a stroke in 2007, which meant that he could not carry on with the business. As part of his recovery he started to create artwork in his sketchbooks and later onto canvas. The experimentation and artistic progress helped him through a difficult period learning to live with the effects of the stroke, which most noticeably have affected his speech. Arts For Health and the Stroke Association asked us if we would like to curate and host the exhibition in the Link Gallery. We went through Richard’s entire collection of work and were given the freedom to pick the pieces we thought would tell his story best.

The exhibition starts with the Porkinson series. They are positioned asymmetrically to indicate a continuation of one scene not realised until we took them out of the sketchbooks. The piece features a private joke between good friend and noted fashion photographer, Norman Parkinson. The emphatic upward pointing finger is a motif repeated in all three pieces to guide the eye up through the scene.

The headless bodies are unusual pieces made in the early part of Richard’s recovery. The intensity of the biro markings in particular, with distinct missing head, reveal a frustration brought out onto the paper. We decided to frame the opposite ink-imprinted page as another dimension to the piece, and to show it within the context it was made. The perforated edges of the paper continue throughout the exhibition to leave the raw creative space of the sketchbooks intact. The sketchbooks were a lifeline in his recovery, so we felt it was important not to hide it behind more traditional mounting techniques.

The central hexagon of the gallery holds a section of portraiture. On one side there are Richard’s self-portraits which reveal different emotional states, as well as documenting his experimentation with diverse artistic styles. Directly facing these, in a form of conversation, are portraits of his wife, Shelley, a significant figure in his life and throughout his recovery. Central to the whole exhibition is the unusual double-sided self-portrait, which is mounted in a specially designed frame. We decided to suspend it high up to give the viewer a sense of the man himself – a large man with an impacting personality.

Finally, the end hexagon holds the ‘list’ series – bright copies of important lists and receipts pertaining to his former life as owner of an iconic fashion shop. Deeper meanings and stories run through these pieces, which elevates them past mere representation.

Elisa Artesero & Roger Bygott

Link Gallery Curators

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