For quite a few years now I have been plugging away, steadily working to promote the art work of Ron Delavigne. I'm delighted that all the work is coming to fruition in his forthcoming exhibition. We first met when I was a young man, freshly out of art college and he was in his late 60s, about to embark on the extraordinary series of paintings that will form this Show. Many of them I saw him working on. He became my great friend and mentor.
Help me fund this exhibition of the extraordinary paintings of Ron Delavigne, who died in 2013, aged 94. This will be the first time these works will have been seen in public. He was an artist who was overlooked by the art world. He lived a quiet,unambitious existence, his paintings known to only a few.
His compelling images were defined by his experience as a Far East POW from 1942 -1945. On his return from the War he was able to go back to St Martins School of Art and complete his training. This exhibition will concentrate on his late work. What finally surfaced from deep within were haunting, inexplicable images. Not specifically'war paintings', but images that emerged from an artist who had been forced to look at the core of things and has witnessed humanity stripped down and laid bare.
I am planning to produce a catalogue of the exhibition. The well known art critic, art historian and curator, Richard Cork has taken a great interest in Delavigne's paintings and has agreed to write a piece for it. I'll be writing the foreword and I'm hoping that Ron's widow Rita will contribute some words. The 20 page, colour catalogue will be a tremendous help in reaching out to a wider audience.
In the exhibition there will be a full size reproduction of the painting 'A Time of Silence', now in the Imperial War Museum Collection. A reoccurring theme in Delavigne's work was his haunting images of owls perched on a post. It was, perhaps, an image that stood in for the suppressed memory of experience. at the age of 79, he transformed it, for one time only, to a decapitated head on a stick with flies buzzing around: the gruesome punishment he had witnessed in Changi jail.
Visitors to the exhibition will be able to listen to the audio recordings of Delavigne; the very moving testament he made for the Imperial War Museum.
The exhibition will take place in the Highgate Gallery, Highgate Literary & Scientific Institution, London. Ron Delavigne lived his whole life in Highgate. His gravestone in the form of an artist's palette is in the famous Highgate Cemetery. It is, of course, entirely appropriate to hold this exhibition in Highgate, where Rita Delavigne continues to live.
The money you give will ensure that Delavigne's work will be seen by many more people and he will get some of the publicity he deserved. It will mean that there be a permanent record, so future students or those conducting research can use the catalogue for reference. It will mean that curators will have the opportunity to include Delavigne's paintings in future exhibitions.
An exciting part of the project will be the Discussion Event. I felt it was important to make the most of having these challenging images on show and use the opportunity to create a debate on the relationship of art, war and memory. The discussion will take place in the exhibition, surrounded by Delavigne's paintings on Sunday 17th April. On the panel we have Richard Cork: art historian, critic,broadcaster and exhibition curator;Albyn Leah Hall: novelist and psychotherapist; John Keane: Painter, Gulf war artist and Dr Glenn Sujo: writer, artist, educator and curator.. The discussion will be chaired by Estelle lovatt FRSA, Independent art critic and art history lecturer, BBC Radio and TV.
Thank you for taking an interest in the work of Delavigne.
Help me put his name on the map!