Richard Rawlins' Primary Property

Rawlins paints Woodbrook
Originally published in the Sunday Guardian for September 02, 2012.
Richard Rawlins at the entrance to the Night Gallery in Woodbrook. Photography by Mark Lyndersay.

A few months ago, Richard Rawlins quit his job at a local advertising agency to pursue art full time.
“I’m primarily a designer and a father of three,” he says at the Night Gallery; the art gallery in Woodbrook he runs with choreographer Dave Williams.
“I’m now enjoying having the time for that. Dropping kids and picking them up.”

Rawlins has also spent the last few weeks preparing both for an upcoming show at the tiny art gallery and an upcoming residency in October at the Vermont Studio Centre.
Why Vermont?

“I’d been talking to Nick Emery who recommended it and mentioned the large alumni of West Indian artists who had worked there.”
Part funding for the VSC residency came from the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism and the other half from the Studio Centre.

His upcoming work, “Primary Property,” speaks from the same inspirations that led him to create a gallery at Bohemia in the first place, a deep connection to the Woodbrook area which began at his family’s home in Baden-Powell Street.

“Most everything I’ve been doing with art has happened in Woodbrook,” Rawlins explains. The work is meant to explore the feel of the suburb, the conflicts that energise it and his own sense of the place as it’s transformed at night.
“I mean look at the light,” he urges.

And I do, seeing the orange of a sodium-vapor lamp reflecting off the left side of his close cropped head and the sickly green-blue of a fluorescent glinting off the right. He isn’t aware of this, of course, but he’s right. Woodbrook is a riot of colour and it’s reflected in the work he’s been doing as an exploration of it.
The abstract works are a tense jumble of street signs, bared limbs and the type of gaudy, electric colours that now pervade the once residential district.

It isn’t the first time he’s gone there.
An earlier show, “Space for Rent” was an installation piece of cards distributed at popular streetwalker locations that explored the prostitution that’s as much a part of Woodbrook as the food and electric colours.
The art, he says, seeks to express all the activity in Woodbrook, the businesses buying out homes, the one-way highways that now run through the north and south main roads that ferry traffic east and west.

Rawlins has shown his work at Alice Yard, a slightly larger art space just a good javelin’s throw from the Night Gallery three times previously, but notes that Primary Property was made for the new space.
The street was also home to some notable brothels, including the notorious “Central” and the area branching off Murray Street proper remains the go-to street for people more interested in women than barbecue.

“Murray Street is a main track for Woodbrook’s traffic, and the work belongs right here.”
blog comments powered by Disqus