“History books can tell us what happened at the storming of the Bastille or the court of Queen Elizabeth, but only fiction can tell us what it felt like to be there. And leaving things out may be a way of capturing the emotional life of the past. ” Thanks, Bridget Whelan!
This painting is called Race You to the Bottom and was created sometime in the late 1990s I imagine, or even more recently, because the artist was born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in 1979. I’ve read that Leigh Lambert’s primary inspiration is his own memories of growing up in North East England, but he draws on things other than memory for a painting like this. Conciously or not, he must have been influenced by earlier generations of artists who depicted working class life. And even by William Blake’s dark, satanic mills because surely clean air legislation would have shut down those smoke-gushing stacks by the time Leigh was playing in the streets. I sincerely hope so.
But the reason I feel certain that the artist didn’t rely on memory alone is the things he didn’t paint. There are no cars, moving or parked, no street furniture or signage, no markings on the…
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