I have wanted to wax-lyrical about Peter Greenaway for almost 10 years but never really had the vehicle or excuse to, until last night when he was awarded a BAFTA for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema. On the face of it this might not seem like a regular Lakeland Arts topic for blogging, however Greenaway, in his own words, ‘continually reinvents cinema’ – shifting boundaries, challenging audiences and inspiring generations for 35 years. He is the reason I am here today and interested in the aspects of contemporary art that I am, in a roundabout way.
My first encounter with Greenaway’s work was not in a cinema, but at Compton Verney, the art gallery and house in Warwickshire which is 10 years old next month. As fate would have it, 10 years ago I was an art student at Dartington College of Arts in my first year and looking for inspiration in many different places – Compton Verney is about 20 minutes from my parent’s house and the chance to visit a new gallery didn’t need to be offered twice.
I had gone to art college to study Writing (Contemporary Practices) under the tutorship of Jerome Fletcher – like many students I didn’t know where I was heading, however I did know I wanted Jerome to be the person that guided me. In the whirlwind of my first year I had been introduced to Tim Etchells, Susan Hiller and Jenny Holzer and was discovering people like Patrick Keiller and then Peter Greenaway’s Luper at Compton Verney – it actually changed my life. Writing, installation, film, humour – it had everything I was looking for and wanting my own work to be.
Today, thinking about it, two of the most interesting pieces of art I’ve seen in the past 12 months link back to Peter Greenaway’s influence on me – Laure Prouvost’s Turner Prize winning piece as displayed at Ruskin Museum right now (which Lakeland Arts have lent two Kurt Schwitters pieces to) and From Where I’m Standing by Delirium Theatre. Those amazing combinations of art, performance, story-telling, digital technologies and immersive experiences that go beyond genre definitions of film, art, theatre…
Nick Duxbury, Gallery & Museum Technician