Saturday, 03 December 2011 11:17

Ray's Laugh

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An honest explication from the artist, as simple as this, makes me realise even more and stick on my belief that art should be taken out of our personal truth. If the truth caracterizes an artist's work, then the work IS  universal, even if it seams strictly personal , even if it's therapeutic and self-centered...


“My father Raymond is a chronic alcoholic.
He doesn’t like going outside, my mother Elizabeth hardly drinks,
but she does smoke a lot.
She likes pets and things that are decorative.
They married in 1970 and I was born soon after.
My younger brother Jason was taken into care when he was 11,
but now he is back with Ray and Liz again.
Recently he became a father.
Dad was some kind of mechanic, but he’s always been an
alcoholic. It has just got worse over the years.
He gets drunk on cheap cider at the off license.
He drinks a lot at nights now and gets up late.
Originally, our family lived in a terraced house,
but they blew all the redundancy money and, in desperation,
sold the house. Then we moved to the council tower block,
where Ray just sits in and drinks.
That’s the thing about my dad, there’s no subject he’s interested
in, except drink.”

“It’s not my intention to shock, to offend, sensationalise,
be political or whatever, only to make work that is as spiritually
meaningful as I can make it -
in all these photographs I never bothered with things like
the negatives. Some of them got marked and scratched.
I just used the cheapest film and took them to be processed
at the cheapest place. I was just trying to make order out of chaos.”

“Sometimes Jason is there, sometimes he isn’t. He lives at a lot of different addresses. Now he’s got a kid. When I used to come home from college, he was in care. He ended coming back to Mum and Dad to do his A-levels, but after about a month he didn’t bother getting up in the mornings and just jacked it in. He said he had no freedom when he was in care. Now he has loads. He just didn’t have any motivation.”

“Dad was some kind of mechanic, but he’s always been an alcoholic. It has just got worse over the years. He gets drunk on cheap cider at the off license. It is so cheap now. He drinks alot at nights now and gets up late.”

“My Mum will be looking at the book and if she hasn’t got full concentration on it she will say, ‘Pass me a fag, Ray.’ They relate to the work but I don’t think they recognize the media interest in it, or the importance. I don’t think that they think anything of it, really. They are not shocked by it, or anything. We’re used to living in poverty.”

“In all these photographs I never bothered with things like the negatives. Some of them got marked and scratched. I just used the cheapest film and took them to be processed at the cheapest place. I was just trying to make order out of chaos.”

Richard Billingham

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