Posted: Friday, 11th November 2011
Dave Pearson's The Meal
A DOCUMENTARY on the extraordinary life and work of MMU artist Dave Pearson is to be broadcast on Sky today Friday, November 11.
Dave Pearson taught in the Manchester School of Art, mainly on the Foundation Course in Art & Design, from 1964 until his retirement in 2002.
A very private artist, he died in 2008 leaving a largely unseen and quite outstanding body of work which is only now beginning to be appreciated.
Lecturer and close friend Margaret Mytton, who is associate producer of the film says: “Dave was an exceptionally imaginative and prolific artist who, throughout a career spanning more than 50 years, created more than 20,000 pieces of work in every medium on which he could lay his hands."
The work ranges in scale from the tiny and intimate to installations of paintings for which the closest parallel would be a mediaeval Byzantine church.
The documentary by a Royal Television Society award-winning producer-director Derek Smith is entitled: “Dave Pearson: To Byzantium’ and tells the story of “one of Britain’s least known but possibly most prolific and extraordinary painters”.
It’s also a story of the struggle to save Dave’s life’s work from obscurity and the attempts by friends and family to shed public light on the work of “a unique artist who shunned publicity and recognition as distractions.”
“Because he chose to spend every available minute producing ever more work rather than following up opportunities to promote it, he has left an almost complete body of work, much of it never seen,” explains Margaret.
Saved for the nation
“After his death, the majority of his work might simply have been thrown away,” added Margaret who joined friends and family in establishing a trust in his name..
With rare footage dating back to the 1950s and including an interview with writer and critic Edward Lucie-Smith, the film offers an insight into the work of an artist.
Margaret remembers Dave as a joy to work with: “Dave was by nature respectful of other artists, whether well-known or minor figures, or students starting out, and his open-mindedness to very different kinds of artwork was characteristic of his imagination and creativity.
His subject matter is fascinating, coming from both personal, internal preoccupations, and from daily life around him, and he drew inspiration from classic literature, in particular, Dante’s, Yeates, Joyce and Dylan Thomas.
Throughout his life he was moved by the subject of war, both by passionate anger against those who started it, and by the heroism and humanity of individuals caught up in it; and many pieces of work were responses to history such as his 21-foot painting to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Jarrow March.
Dave’s use of materials and his approach to the subject matter was also influenced by the colours and kitsch design of packaging of cheap goods, by random objects from house clearances and plastic toys imbued variously with sentimentality or violence.
Joan Beadle, who also works on Foundation, was interviewed in the film and also supplied the film of the Carnival of the Animals. John Hyatt also made an important contribution in his interview, as did several ex members of staff including Nick Fleming, Ken Billany and the late Katy Wood.
Adds Margaret: “Dave's work takes us to strange places with impossible, thick, tangible space, peopled by hoards of undefined humans and animals, yet they are also oddly familiar: disorientating, compelling and beautiful, joyously exuberant, and darkly obsessive in equal measure.”
The film, which was launched at the Cornerhouse on September 4 will be broadcast for the first time on the Community Channel on Friday 11th November 2011 at 10.00pm (repeated at 3.00am). Sky 539, Virgin Media 233, Freeview 87, and on demand at: http://communitychannel.mediatrust.org
A major exhibition of Dave’s work will be shown in London next year at the Bermondsey Project Space, April 19 – May 13 2012, and will be co-curated by Edward Lucie-Smith, Mick Bateman and Margaret Mytton.