John, Alhambra. Photo © Joy Episalla. 2004

John Dougill


b. 1934 Liverpool

Education

1950-55 West Sussex College of Art
1957-60 Royal College of Art

Solo Exhibitions

2010 ‘Horizons’. Studio 1.1 Gallery, London
2004 Studio 1.1 Gallery, London
1999 Artist of the Day, Flowers East Gallery, London
1997 Gasworks Gallery, London
Arkitekt Skole Gallery, Bergen, Norway

Selected Group Exhibitions

2011 ‘Line, Poppy Sebire, London.
‘Uncaught Hares’. Stephen Lawrence Gallery, London and
Clifford Chance, London.
2006 ‘Out of the Blue”. Abington, Philadelphia, USA.
2004 ‘Plan B’, Studio 1.1 Gallery,  London
‘Little and Large’, Tunnel Gallery, Tonbridge School. With Vanessa Jackson.
‘The Trace Edition’, Hirschel Contemporary Art, London.
2001 ‘Closer Still’, Artsway, New Forest.
1999 North House Gallery, Manningtree.
‘Don’t smoke in my House ‘, Cremer Gallery, London.
1998 ‘ Looking out to Sea’, Winchester Gallery and Southern Arts touring.
1997 ‘Off the Peg’. Rack Gallery, London.
‘Absolut Secret’. Gulbenkian Gallery, RCA, London.
‘ To thine own self be true’. Conway Hall, London.
1996 ‘ Sad ‘. Gasworks Gallery, London
London Group, Lethaby Gallery, London.
‘RCA Painters’, Gallery Seven, Hong Kong
1995 London Group. Barbican Concourse, London
‘The Question of Scale’, Winchester and Arnolfini Galleries,Bristol
1994 ‘Three Ways’ . RCA/British Council touring Africa and E. Europe.
1992 ‘Peninsula Journeys’. Middlesex and Coventry Universities
1987 ‘The Discerning Eye’. Invited artist. Mall Galleries, London
‘Exhibition Road’. RCA Painters. RCA Galleries. London
‘On a Plate’ War on Want. Serpentine and Farnham Galleries
1985 ‘Thirty London Painters’, Royal Academy, London
1983 ‘Works on Paper’, Preston Polytechnic
1982 ‘Small Works’, Newcastle Polytechnic
‘St.Martins Painters’, Seven Dials Gallery, London
‘RCA Painting Faculty’, Gulbenkian Gallery, London
1981. Galerie zur alten Deutschen Schule, Thun, Switzerland

Lecturing

1960 – 1962 Working Mens College. Drawing and Printmaking.
1960 – 1999 Central St.Martins,Painting and Foundation Departments.
1975 – 1999 Royal College of Art, Painting Department
1989 – 2002 Sensor, Bergen Arkitekt Skole, Norway
1998 – 2002 External Assessor, Fine Art Department, Middlesex University
1992 – 1996 RCA International Summer Programmes

Notes from John to Joy Episalla (extract)


EXHIBITION: Out of the Blue. Abington Philidelphia, USA. 2006

Most of my working life has been spent trying to resolve the necessities of teaching for a living, and being a practising artist.  In the last few years I have also been an assessor in various colleges and universities, and for many years a ʻsensorʼ at the Bergen Architectural School in Norway.

I have always found the act and circumstances of teaching to be rewarding, and would probably have wanted to teach even if there had been no need to make a living.  Most artists who work in this way will know about the good things in teaching, but will also know about the difficulties of finding a separate and concentrated time for their own practice.  When I first started there were many artist/ teachers who developed antennae that kept them and their students in the currency of contemporary art, but I tended to either have the awkward students, or was able to devise mostly group projects that had a rather more social or political basis to them.  As a post-graduate student myself after two years military service, I favoured the gritty realities of photography over painting, which made life difficult in the Royal College of those days.

I was born in Liverpool and spent my early years very aware of the presence of the Mersey.  I spent many hours watching ships go from right to left, and others go from left to right.  I knew what was on the left because not very far away were the great docks, and they were often on fire because it was war time.  What was on the right was well beyond my imagination.  I was also aware of the sea coming in and receding in a regular way, very different to the scattered and variable movements of the sea lanes.  I remember itʼs sound at night.

Another ( formative? ) experience was at night when the city was bombed.  We would go to a converted coal basement. The sky above seemed to me to be like the inside of a huge dark blue dome.  Small sounds would slowly move across this vast space. I was able ( or thought I was ) to tell the difference in engine sound between enemy and friendly planes.  Every so often something would arrive out of that space and make a big bang, usually in the nearby dock area.  On the following morning there was the excitement of collecting warm shrapnel in the streets and on the sands. It was a little like being very small and standing on a coin.  You think you know what your world is, and then you realise that there is another world absolutely attached to you but completely opposite. ( Abottʼs Flatland.  The Story of a Square comes to mind.)

Whether the above description has anything to do with the ideas I have as an artist I donʼt know.  I certainly think about them quite a lot. I do generally have an idea of what I want to say though I often find that the original intention has somehow migrated and turned into something else.

With the making of photographs and objects the processes seem to be ʻ cleanʼ in the sense that certain things have to be attended to before they can exist.  In order to proceed, each stage depends on how you did the one before.  With painting, however much I try to make it ʻcleanʼ,  there is nearly always a point in which it seems to take on a life of itʼs own.   At this stage I have a bad habit of covering the wall with ideas of what I think it is.   I have learned to take notice of a painting that seems to have a truculent and ungiving face, and nurture it. ( probably why i have a fondness for Philip Guston amongst others. ) Though ideas pull in different directions, there is always the struggle for co-herence.   I think I would prefer to make work which is just memorable in some way, rather than fit any particular current cannon of art, if there is such a thing.

John Dougill