This weeks Calvin on Culture column in the Hull Daily Mail focuses on a great artist who I first discovered last year. I come across all sorts of incredibly talented people, every week as I work in and around Hull. Many of these artists deserve much more recognition, and exposure than they get… so I’ve decided to use my column to showcase some of this talent. In the weeks when I’m not writing about a specific event or show I will focus on individual artists or musicians from Hull (or who are inspired by Hull), and try get them a little more attention.
Below is an extended version of the column in Saturday’s Hull Daily Mail. There is only so much room in the paper each week, so here on my blog I’m able to add a little more detail.
I first discovered the work of Andrew Reid Wildman last year while collecting together pieces for a small exhibition of local artists, in Hull. I, like many who see Wildman’s work instantly fell for the raw and vibrant style of his canvases that combine paint and photography to create textured, visceral artworks where realism meets vibrant colour.
For the first of my columns aimed at throwing light on local, and locally inspired artists, I spoke to Andrew about his work, his experiences of Hull and his artistic influences.
Andrew Reid Wildman, who now resides in Essex where he works as a college lecturer, is originally from Beverley. A genuine love for the city of Hull, and a restless need to return has driven much of his creative process in recent years, leading him to portray a number of Hull’s buildings in his work. His paintings, which include depictions of the Edward Davies Building and historic buildings on Beverley Road, display a need to reconnect with the city he moved away from at the age of six.
Wildman says of his work, “Hull fascinates me and always has, and I would paint it whether or not the city had achieved the City of Culture status. I have painted scenes outside of the city, but more and more, I just want to paint Hull. I also devote much time to photographing the city, driven by a seemingly endless energy to record, document, portray. I have been referred to as Hull’s Oscar Marzaroli for this reason. Each corner and each street yields fresh wells of emotion which I think few can understand if they have never been wrenched away from their childhood roots, and then later return, gingerly at first, boldly latterly. In a life characterised by constant change, Hull is one of the few places that I have known all my life. Hull has simply never not been there as part of my consciousness. I think this is why I get so upset when I see the dereliction and destruction of post-War buildings in the city, as they are anchors to my past. And hence comes the need to paint them.”
Wildman has a way of creating beautiful pieces of art from the most unexpected places. His canvases often depict dilapidated or tired buildings, brought to life on canvas. On his recent work, two views of the often maligned Edward Davies Building, Wildman says, “I was moved by the colours of the brick and concrete. I remember my dad parking nearby in the 70s, at the start of a Hull outing, and I wanted to explore the texture of the buildings more closely. I also painted recently a trilogy of works, including the Royal Station Hotel, a place I remember from childhood. I was allowed to go to the newsstand on the station and buy a comic all by myself, savouring this glimmer of freedom and the smells of diesel and cigarette smoke, before returning to the genteel fug of the hotel’s lounge.”
Upon leaving Hull, a young Wildman and his family moved to Luxembourg, where he began to discover his love for art. The influence of 19th century Dutch artist Hammershoi can clearly be seen in his work, as can the warm, inviting work of the great American realist painter, Edward Hopper. As a huge fan of Hoppers work, perhaps it is this influence that first drew me personally to Wildman’s canvases. They have the same barren, yet hopeful essence I enjoy in Hoppers work, with the addition of reflecting images of my home town.
A modest yet hugely talented man, Wildman speaks passionately of his memories of Hull. “I have a chip on my shoulder about my East Yorkshire roots. I clearly remember going to an English-speaking school abroad and no-one seemed to have heard of Hull, or Hornsea, or Bridlington, places that had been my whole world till the upheaval of moving. And I remember people laughing at my strong accent and at the places I wanted to tell them about, because those places were important to me, but not to them. That was my first life lesson in how some people perceive Hull, and it infuriates me, actually it hurts me. And that is one thing I find strange about 2017, a wry feeling of ‘so you finally noticed us, did you? I eventually lost my accent in the years after I left, during my exile. I can revert to it, but it is no longer natural for me. In later life I began to return to Hull, fleeting trips full of bitter-sweet memory. I have been back so often now that such feelings of nostalgia have been largely replaced with sweeter feelings of coming home, though occasionally I am struck by a pang of grief and longing for times lost. I was in George Street last week. I suddenly realised I was standing outside Carmichaels, a place my mum used to take me to for cream cakes and orangeade in the early seventies. I wanted to go inside. But it has all gone, the delicate Wedgewood porcelain, the ‘posh Yorkshire’ accents, the turquoise blue of the café’s décor and the brandy snaps filled with cream. I spend hours searching through online forums for grainy photographs of how it was. Other places yield similar emotions, such as the goldfish in Queens Gardens (I used to try and poke them!), stairwells in Hammonds that used to smell of coffee and cheese and Dettol, the mural of the BHS building, the view of the Hull from the museum quarter. I was terrified of the soft, flat mud and rusting chains.”
Andrew Reid Wildman’s paintings can currently be seen at various places around Hull. The Go Dutch Pancake House in Paragon Square boasts the largest collection, while other pieces can be seen at Thieving Harry’s, Wagon’s Coffee Bar, The English Muse and The Brief. Another of the artists Hull-themed canvases ‘Witham Tandoori’ is currently on display at the Landscape and Memory Exhibition at Cavan in Ireland.
Andrew’s Facebook page, the Art ofAndrew Reid Wildman, is www.facebook.com/pages/The-Art-of-Andrew-Reid-Wildman/205122196228658
Prints and cards featuring his work are available at http://www.redbubble.com/shop/andrew+reid+wildman+framed-prints
He also have a huge library of photography at www.flickr.com/photos/spicygreenginger much of it featuring Hull. Andrew is also the author of a book of short stories set in East Yorkshire, called Spicy Green Ginger.
Check out the Calvin On Culture Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/CalvinOnCulture
You can read my column, Calvin on Culture every Saturday in the Hull Daily Mail and East Riding Mail