About

This is the site of John Wilkinson, a contemporary artist living and working in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. The work on these pages is all original artwork, produced by the artist (author) and copyright to the artist. News & Ramblings is my blog, and often features new works and details of upcoming exhibitions. ‘Artworks‘ links to pages detailing works available for sale, grouped by theme, and additional pages detail the exhibitions I have participated in. All work is for sale, and clicking on the images will reveal the sizes and prices (excluding transport costs) of all available pieces.  Should you wish to purchase any of my works, or discuss commissions, please contact me via the form on the ‘Contact me’ page.

As an artist I am fascinated by the relationship between us and our environment, how we have shaped it, and it has shaped us, and the unavoidable signs of this symbiotic process that litter our landscape. Living in a northern industrial city in a post-industrial climate, set In a wild and ancient landscape, the inexorable process of decay and reshaping that characterises the world of nature seems to have spilled over into the city, as the old falls out of use, decays, and is finally torn down as the city restructures itself. I portray my world with paint. The medium is as important as the result; the tactility of paint being a key part of the process of communicating our reactions to living in the extremely tactile urban environment. The qualities of paint lend themselves well to our expression – it is both social and anti-social, angry and patient, bright and subdued, celebratory and critical. Paint draws it’s colours from the earth that humanity has trampled, manipulated and shaped to form the subjects I portray.

My palette is drawn from the moors, crags, peaks and edges that surround me, and dominate the industrial and social history of the area. The ochres, Sienna’s and umbers of the rocks, the purples of the heather and the blues of the ever changing sky merge with the ossified stone, the concrete dust, hard baked clays and iron oxides of the abandoned remains of Sheffield’s industrial past, and are threatened by the brighter hues of the emerging post industrial environment.

As I walk around the city, it is still the past that dominates. Perhaps like the 18th century sublimisists it’s the process of change that sits heavily, and influences my response, or perhaps it’s the soullessness of the new, as yet to acquire a social history. For it is the social element of the environment that draws me. These were factories, machines and houses that provided employment, assistance and to people, and which themselves arrived as a result of the unique geography and resources of the surrounding area. The industrial urban environment drew in people from the rural areas, and community developed in the noise, heat, dirt and danger of the factories, forges and mines. It was this that De Loutherberg portrayed with horror (Coalbrook Dale by night), and which is itself being swept away. As the old communities that grew up around it die, a new post industrial landscape, yet to acquire its sociality, emerges. No romantic, I have no illusions of the reality of a dirty, smoky industrial past. Nevertheless, it’s loss has devastated the lives of many around me, and continues to do so as the new economics leave little opportunity for the human or material remnants of the past. My urban expression is informed by a sense of regret for the vacant space, both physical and social, that is decaying, and a disquiet about the shiny new and soulless that is growing around me.

 

I welcome comments and constructive critiques, either about individual pieces or my work in general. Please feel free to leave them and I will endeavour to respond. Thankyou for viewing.

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3 thoughts on “About

  1. Your work is strong and engaging, John. I look forward to seeing more! I, too, am fascinated by decayed industrial sites. I wonder what it is in our psyches that find neglected and deteriorating buildings so compelling, if not beautiful? Regardless, your handling of the subject is quite inspiring to me, as I am attempting to push beyond my comfort zone into expressive painting. And so very sorry to hear of your health problems. I hope you recover fully soon. My very best – Carolyn

    • Thankyou Carolyn. Certainly for me the attraction of the decaying remains of our past is the weight of ‘might have beens’ contained within them. Derelict, most of their potential has gone, they exist in a state of non-being, a stage between two active lifetimes, rendering themselves open to both nostalgia and possibility. Nostalgia is tempered in the case of decaying industrial relics by the weight of hopes and aspirations placed upon them in the past. These buildings that were peoples livelihoods have ceased to fulfill that function, they have reached the end of development and progression, and by implication so too has the (at least local) expression of that industry. A good example of this are the poignant photos of the derelict remains of the car industry in Detroit – heartrending – but then, your photo of the store in Forks of Buffalo also achieves a similar poignancy, once again, for me, because it represents the end of a communities hopes?. I think also that there is a relationship between the power expressed by a relic when it was active, and how it is perceived when it is static. A factory or a steam engine seem like dinosaurs muted, the contradiction between their active and resting states so vast and the sublime fear that they might suddenly wake the source of the attraction 🙂 That’s my take on it anyway, for what it’s worth, but I am glad to know that the work has inspired you, if you do choose to paint decay you have an impressive selection of photos to help inform the work you produce, and I look forward to seeing where you go with it. Cheers. John

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