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April 2002
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  Stuckism: paint before concept
  John Bourne explains why he founded the Wrexham Stuckists, a group of artists more interested in paint than concepts  
Castell Caergwrle, acrylic, by Geraint Dodd
View paintings by Geraint Dodd


Tal-y-Fan, blue, acrylic, by Neil Robertson
View paintings by Neil Robertson


Individual, oil,
by Elfyn Jones


Supermarket Aisle, oil, by John Bourne
View paintings by John Bourne



Stuckism started with an insult: the conceptual artist Tracey Emin accused her artist boyfriend Billy Childish of being stuck (presumably because he was still painting, instead of producing installations, performances and videos). Childish must have decided he was happy being stuck because, together with Charles Thomson, he founded the Stuckists in Jan 1999. The term Stuckism was coined by Thomson from a reference to the insult in Childish's poem.

I started painting in 1985 when figurative painting seemed to be held in high regard, but since then Conceptual Art has become increasingly dominant. When my work was not included in a local exhibition in Nov 2001 I began to despair of ever having a fair showing.

Then I remembered hearing about a group called The Stuckists who demonstrated outside the Tate against the dominance of the Turner Prize. I also remembered an article about them in the Sunday Times and liking paintings by Charles Thomson reproduced there. Wondering if there might be a Stuckist website, I soon found that there was indeed an extensive site at www.stuckism.com. Exploration of this website revealed that Stuckism had spread from London to include groups in various parts of the world. I liked the Stuckist Manifesto with its emphasis on painting and artistic integrity. It contained many new ideas and seemed to sum up my disquiet concerning the contemporary art world. Here was a radical, modern movement which championed painting. Some of the artists appeared a little rough and their work at times shocking, but this seemed an advantage if anything; a more precious group would be unlikely to overthrow the entrenched establishment. Equally attractive was the Stuckist's sense of fun, demonstrating on the steps of the Tate, dressed as clowns.

Emailing the Stuckist website produced an immediate reply encouraging me to start a new group, with Elfyn Jones, Neil Robertson and Geraint Dodd. We called it the Wrexham Stuckists, a name which sounds to me both comical and radical. With a lot of encouragement from the Stuckists a simple website was produced and linked to the main Stuckist site. Our website was barely running when a website in Seattle contacted us, inviting us to exhibit online.

From these beginnings I hope the Wrexham Stuckists will gather momentum and prove a more constant source of illumination than many of Turner prize people.

If you are an artist intersted in joining the Wrexham Stuckists please email us.
welshpaintings 2002 | all paintings copyright of the artist