Richie Culver: No one knows me like Dawn from the Job Centre – to 27th May 2018
What to say about outsider art? When does outsider art become insider art? Could any old crap called art just be– errr – crap? Or is anything, whatever it is . . . . hang on! Why am I asking these clichéd old questions? After all, when the Turner Prize appeared in Hull last year, the promo line was “Whatever you think of the Turner Prize, you’re right.” So now you can be right and wrong at the same time, but only if you meet somebody who has the opposite view. Then you’re both right. And wrong. Richie Culver, in the sparse, bare galleries of the Humber Street Gallery is expressing something and it matters not that he can’t paint, or perhaps he has chosen to paint this way after three years at art school. Perhaps what he is saying about working class life can only be accurately portrayed in a naive style. He certainly cranks them out. Of the 21 pieces on show, 15 were produced in 2018 alone. And the exhibition started on the 16th March. Dawn at the Job Centre might well be interested in knowing whether Richie is seriously job hunting. Given the cartoonish, 10-minute each treatment of the works perhaps this is not an issue. If the painting is shall we say not impressive in a classical sense, does the subject matter warrant attention? The title of each picture is painted as a part of the picture, often with the title of a newspaper included too. This lends an immediacy to the pictures. ‘She’s a miracle’ (2017, 152cm x 122cm, acrylic on polycell on canvas) chosen as the illustrative picture for the exhibition’s publicity leaflet certainly has a sense of movement. The dog could be a mix of whippet and staffie, but that only adds to the working class credentials of the dog, racing along under the glorious appellation of Racing Post’s ‘Dog of the Year.’ I’m not sure I’d want one of these pictures on my walls, but then I’m middle class. Perhaps this work will go down well in the home of metro elite types, keen to connect with an unvarnished reality. There, the pictures might invite dinner party guests “to look at the fleeting yet significant relationships we encounter as well as our strive for success against adversity.”
In gallery one there are three works by Tim Noble and Sue Webster, who are ‘internationally acclaimed artists’ who ‘present three light installations from their prolific back catalogue.’ Should you miss the exhibition, there’s always Hull Fair in the autumn. There you’ll find working class art par excellence.
Whilst down Humber Street, once the centre of Hull’s fruitmarket and a long neglected part of the city, you might come across a dark building which used to house exhibitions by members of the Kinsgton Art Group. They were here long before the gentrification process began – the usual story in fact, crumbling semi-derelict buildings taken over by artists only to fall prey to the rentiers’ squeezing out creativity. The fruitmarket area – now basically just one street left standing – will one day be pretty to look at but thoroughly inoculated against anything that doesn’t smack of prettification. So, keep up the good work Richie Culver. And let’s see whether the legacy of the City of Culture supports more artists than consultants.