Ben Walker Statement

My recent paintings refer to a distinct era of British culture and TV programmes and films - 1970s and 1980s educational programmes for schools, childrens' films and public information films. Looking back, television broadcasts and films from this time often seemed imbued with a strange, otherly quality. For example ‘Children of the stones’, an HTV production from 1977, was concerned with subject matter and atmospheres that seemed odd or even unsettling for a broadcast aimed at children - eerily presented supernatural forces and the breakdown of normal society.

It is the setting of these films or images that is especially important to me, which draw heavily on relationships to the rural landscape, and present that landscape as a place that "seems to offer security and yet it is somehow the location of menaces far more profound than those found in the city." 1 This is central to defining the overall mood of the paintings. Much of the source imagery seems familiar, comforting, and yet it is also unsettling or eerie. It is these qualities in the paintings, which are impressions of half remembered, misremembered or an imagined past, that exist on the edges of memory and nostalgia where ideas of folklore, the unknown, the wyrd, science fiction and the supernatural are meshed together. Embedded in these paintings is the loss of childhood innocence and with it, the death of a bygone utopia.

The paintings are on coarse textured linen. The oil paint, thinned with turps, is scrubbed into the weave of the linen, and then may be removed and repainted over and over. Consequently, traces of earlier incarnations often remain visible in the finished picture, articulating the hauntological theme of the past repeating into the present.

1 Joe Kennedy, 2013.

Ben Walker Art