The Royal Standard: Artist Talk – Richard Whitby

5 May 2012



Richard Whitby will give a talk at the gallery on his work and answer questions about the exhibition on Sat 5th May at 3pm. The exhibition is soon to close so if you haven’t already been along please come down before it goes.
Richard will be presenting a slide talk in which he will discuss key themes across the work  that he is currently showing within the gallery. He will discuss the position of theatricality in architecture and commerce and the importance of improvisation within his work.
//Plans Within Plans//

By Richard Whitby

Exhibition runs: 6th April until 6th May 2012


Open Friday to Sunday 12noon-6pm or by appointment

The fabric of Richard Whitby’s work appears to be on the verge of collapsing, ‘degenerating’ into its constituent parts – “When you look at something unfinished, sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s being made, or falling apart”, he says.  Through the use of hand-made objects, props and amateur or improvised performances, Richard invokes the monumental, whilst undermining the implacable façades of such structures and images – utilising props and sets in an age of fake democracy; fake growth.

The title ‘Plans Within Plans’ is a line of dialogue from David Lynch’s 1984 film Dune.  The line appears towards the start of a baroque, science fiction epic that, the artist says, “promises a lot at the outset, but due to production problems only exists now in an awkward, bodged form.”  The line refers to the scheming nature of one character, exposed as engaged in layered plots.  Whitby’s work often foregrounds the artist’s own position as maker and as complicit agent within the systems (regeneration; tourism and the like) that the work seeks to critique.  Consisting of video, writing, printed posters and sculpture, it is concerned with layers of differing meanings and interpretations: façades and artifice that build between different works.

At The Royal Standard, Whitby will show three new videos.  Using different modes of presentation and modelling, they explore the commonality between architectural ‘pre-visualisations’, cinematic special effects, stage-set designs and the propositions of contemporary advertising.  A Time to Love and a Time to Die adopts the title of a Hollywood melodrama from 1958.   The film was made by German director Douglas Sirk and is a story about German soldiers (played by American actors) at the end of the Second World War.  In Richard’s video, computer generated 3D models draw inspiration from the cover of the soundtrack album from the film – a damaged copy of which provides the audio.  The embrace of two lovers, the man in German uniform, is repeatedly rendered – in abstracted blocks and cylinders, in digital granite and metal.

The Beating of Vast Wings!was made in 2011 in the artist’s current home – Bow, in East London.  It takes the story Richard Strauss’s 1905 opera Salome – an old testament allegory of decadence and impending doom – and juxtaposes it with a narrative of urban renewal in London, as well as a version of Strauss’s own fate in post-war Austria.  The American voice, belonging to a young man recorded in present day London, struggles to relay a story he half knows, whilst images of models and sketches appear and disappear on the screen.  Past and present tenses are elided; stories misappropriated and distinctions between historical truth and fictional artifice are suspended.

A new video made in Liverpool with local actors is a response to the new architecture of the city, which has proliferated since he left in 2004.  Each actor improvises with small models made by the artist, based on buildings in Liverpool.  Playing the role of an architect, the actors are asked to describe their own invented inspirations for the buildings’ designs.  This work looks at the impersonal forms of current international architecture and asks local actors to make personal connections to it and claim it as their own.
Richard’s ongoing series of posters appropriates phrases or words and photographs or found images.  Although taking formal cues from advertising, he attempts to set the detached signs adrift, the intention or ‘pitch’ is obscured.  The artist proposes that ‘misappropriation’ of cultural tropes might be not only an interesting proposition, but also an empowering one.  The processes of translation, repetition and mutation are central to all the work – be that within myths, formal tropes, re-makes and franchises, or personal nostalgia.
The glossy optimism of ‘infinite’ growth, and the itinerant brutality of capitalism; the proscenium arch that frames urban life, and the suspension of disbelief necessary to exist in contemporary culture – these are the central themes of the work.

Also coming soon –


Through the 18th and 19th of May The Royal Standard will present FAVELA! a two day event celebrating the studio artists currently working at TRS through a series of exhibitions, screenings and events.

Subverting the traditional format of an open studio as an “event”, FAVELA! aims not to isolate individual practices confined to ose social, educational the work space but to understand how work and movements coalesce around the notion of an active artist community.
FAVELA! aims to understand and develop The Royal Standards position as an independent artists led space and community. By creating a multi purpand living space we will invite the public to occupy The Royal Standard through a variety of means and methods over this intense period. In doing so FAVELA!  hopes to question, discuss and celebrate the methodologies of building DIY communities and our current position within the city’s networks.
For 48 hours FAVELA! will occupy the entirety of The Royal Standard, intergrating the gallery and studios for the first time to present a series of events, screenings, barbeques, beers, presentations, discussions, collaborative projects and exhibitions.
Soon to be added details and a programme of events see