Billy Childish 2/1/2011

I spent the morning writing lists.

Decided NOT to go to Florence as I couldn’t make the bloody SNCF website take my frigging credit card.  So, I booked into Dean Street Town House and decided to spend some days in London instead.  After all..London is by far a more exciting city than Florence.

By Midday I had made all manner of plans with various friends.  Toby Mott, Tim and others.

Whilst in town have resolved to throw myself into AA meetings, which I have been loathed to do since I arrived.

The day could have ended there but, on a whim, decided to pop in on artist/writer/rocker/father of two Billy Childish who is enjoying something of an art world reprise.

The day would get not only very much better but also very expensive.

I have known Billy since we were at Medway Art College Foundation Course in the late seventies.   Another one of my up and down explosive relationships…but I have always been a great supporter of his and he me.  An unlikely friendship.

When I lived in Whitstable I would spend most Sunday afternoons with Billy and his Mother June.  Delicious roast chicken lunch every Sunday.

For the longest time I thought that he would end up like artist and dandy Sebastian Horsley:  successful once dead. Thankfully that has not come to pass.

Billy’s monumental new work has become monumentally well received.  After a sell out show at the Basel Art Fair and a major New York exhibition in an important gallery planned for the end of the year I can perfectly understand why he seems so confident.

These new paintings are unbelievably beautiful and really hard for the Art Establishment to ignore.   The new work has an impeccable provenance.   Obvious influences include German Expressionists: Erich Heckel, Kirchner, Nolde.

Dreamlike reworking of earlier paintings as well as bold painterly portraits of Billy’s great heroes (Jean Sibelius) and when I was there, an epic series of paintings reworking images from the Battle of Wounded Knee.

Billy has been cruelly left out in the cold for nearly thirty years.  The art world added insult to injury by choosing to patronize the second-rate antics of Tracy Emin over her acknowledged mentor and ‘inspiration’.

I remember introducing Jay Jopling to Billy in Whitstable one Sunday afternoon and was shocked by Jay’s indifference.  Jay told me after the meeting that he thought Billy ‘aggressive and tricky’.

It brings a tear to my eye to see him finally and rightfully accepted into the fold.

Today I filmed him painting in his studio.

People ask him how long it takes to paint a painting.   “What can I say?”   Stabbing at a ten foot high canvas with his charcoal.   “An afternoon or thirty years?”

The new work is huge.

Of course it’s huge!  He is no longer restricted…physically…no longer painting in his bedroom.  He is being acknowledged.  He has a huge studio.  His wings no longer clipped.

These paintings are important.

We talked at length about Tracy Emin his long time ex girlfriend…who, when he saw her the time before last, rudely told him that she could not be bothered to hang out with anyone who ‘hadn’t realized their potential‘.

Tracy!  What a pompous cow!  Liar to boot.

Anyway, since the upturn in his fortunes she is suddenly very friendly with Billy.  He will, by far, crush her with his fame and fortune….even though he has no intention of doing either.

Tracy is a silly girl…she believes in her own greatness whilst all the time using made up stories to fuel interest in it.    Tracy, you mad cow…listen to me…we all realize our potential sooner or later…sometimes quickly…sometimes slowly.

I have a huge collection of Billy’s work.   Beautiful things.

Julie, Scout and Billy 2/1/11