On Monday 12 January, Outside In Communications Officer Kate Davey visited the Our Art Collective, based at 80 Buckingham Road in Brighton, to speak with John Cull – one of the Collective’s most prolific artists. Creating art since he was a young child, John has produced a significant amount of work during his time with the Collective; paintings, chalk and oil pastel pieces, and some experiments with pen and ink. In this post, Kate discusses John’s work, his inspirations, as well as the impending closure of the Collective and what this means for John as an artist.
In 2007, John was crowned one of six Outside In Award Winners, and has since exhibited nationally. He visits Our Art Collective every Monday, where he will sit and paint three to four different pieces in the hour and a half session – more, sometimes, if he is working on smaller pieces. But his art-making isn’t limited to his time with the Collective. At home, he’ll re-work posters he has unstuck from the walls at Buckingham Road, bringing them in the following week to share with the group.
He predominantly creates works in colour, mixing the paints himself on the canvas to create unusual, vibrant and abstract pieces. His subject matter is more often than not a familiar face or a familiar place. A natural observer, John will take in his surroundings, capturing the faces of his fellow Collective participants on paper, or immortalising the famous landmarks of his hometown Brighton – the pier, the Pavilion, the Grand Hotel, Preston Park. He has also been known to create from memory on certain occasions.
Working on board or paper, John says: “I like painting the people and things I like and know, mixing colours with my paintbrush.”
Aaron Green, Lead Arts Facilitator at Our Art Studios, says of John’s work: “Demonstrating a quiet unobtrusive manner, with a keen and witty eye for observing others, he finds great delight in documenting people. Especially when they are celebrating birthdays, a birth of a child, or convalescence after illness. He will often overhear an event in someone’s life and come back some time later with a selection of work depicting that time.”
There are, of course, other extremely talented artists who are a part of the Collective. To showcase the incredible work made here, Our Art Collective hosts exhibitions down in the basement gallery at Buckingham Road. These shows are often curated by participants of the Collective, and are open every Wednesday from 10am – 2pm for the public to drop in. Adjacent to the gallery space is an art shop selling the work of the 60+ Collective artists.
Whilst visiting the Day Centre, I learnt of its impending closure (it will only exist until the end of March) due to Council cuts. It was an extremely saddening piece of information, considering many of the artists who are a part of the Collective initiative may not have the opportunity to make art again in such a safe and supportive environment after the closure. And what does this mean for people like John, who is an artist in his own right and deserves to be recognised as such?
- Our Art Collective website
- John Cull’s Outside In online gallery
- Information on Our Art’s facilitated sessions discussing the development of a quality arts based organisation
- Brighton and Hove Council’s wellbeing strategy