Art - Billy Childish

“He looks like he’s having more fun being a poet than I am,” said poet laureate Andrew Motion of Billy Childish, whose art and writing is being exhibited in the Gardner Arts Centre until Saturday. Chatham-based Childish is about as cult as it gets in this country, proper Charles-Bukowski-cult, a man who exploded onto the punk scene in the 70’s, has produced over 100 albums, created over 2,500 paintings, written over 30 books, and still remains a virtual unknown on the mainstream scene. His fan base includes the White Stripes, Patti Smith and Boho. Larry Clarke, the director of Bully and Kids, is making a film about his life so far. Kurt Cobain loved the man. Tracey Emin, a former lover, gave his name a big space in her tent.

Childish has an obsessive memory recall of his troublesome childhood years and this is a frequent theme in his work across all the media he exploits. His art has a post-punk pre-Weimar primitive feel to it – Otto Dix meets John Lydon in deepest Kent. He produces woodcuts and oil paintings on wood and canvas. On seeing one of his works you realise you would immediately recognise another. Catching him play live is quite an experience – his current band, the Buff Medways, are named after a Victorian cockerel-fancying group. His previous band, Thee Headcoats, played in the All Saints back in 1999. Mark Hewitt of Lewes Live Lit calls him ‘a very decent chap.’ AL

Kent urbane: Billy Childish at the Gardner Arts Centre
Gardner Arts Centre, University of Sussex
When? 10am – 6pm
How Much? Free
(t) 01273 685861
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