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Joash Woodrow at Liverpool University

joash-woodrow-collage.jpg‘Works on Paper’ by Joash Woodrow (1927 – 2006) at University of Liverpool Art Gallery, Abercromby Sq. January 12 – April 20 2007

An interesting story and interesting work. Joash refused to exhibit, a lot of his work is on scraps of paper, wallpaper or painted directly onto the pages of the Victorian Magazines of Art which I thought quite an amusing idea. Several works are very sketchy but drawn or painted with gusto, plenty of thick black lines.
I particularly like the collages made from various materials including music scores, cardboard and brown paper.

Until a fire at his home in 1999, Woodrow’s art was only known to his close family, yet the body of work saved from the fire included around 3,000 drawings, watercolours, collages and prints spanning over 50 years of the artist’s life. On display are some of Woodrow’s earliest images; intimate sketches of family life in 1940s Leeds, often on scraps of paper, due to the scarcity of supplies.

Woodrow studied art at Leeds School of Art and the RCA, where contemporaries included Frank Auerbach and Peter Blake. London made his pictures bolder and more experimental, but he suffered a breakdown and returned to his family home in Leeds in 1956.

After the deaths of his mother and brother Woodrow’s work took over the entire house. Pictures were stacked together as soon as they were finished, sometimes even before the paint was dry. As well as the more traditional surface of paper, he used whatever was available, from advertising boards to the pages of a Victorian art journal.

Despite his withdrawal from London, art remained the focus of Woodrow’s life. Unconstrained by others’ expectations his work became more adventurous. He experimented with collage and synthesised the styles of other artists including Cézanne and Picasso. His greatest inspiration was the city around him: his vigorous watercolours and drawings reflect Leeds’ growing optimism towards the end of the 20th century.

Liverpool University Art Gallery