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Roddy Maude Roxby – Associative Drifts – An exhibition presented across two West London locations.

Roddy Maude-Roxby’s, Associative Drifts is an exhibition presented across two West London locations, exploring the largely unseen visual art of Roddy Maude-Roxby, born 1930 and still working, teaching, and painting today.

Widely known as an actor on screen and stage, where he appeared alongside names including Oliver Reed, Marianne Faithfull and Sir Alec Guinness, Associative Drifts examines the vital connection between performance and visual art in Roddy’s creative life.

Roddy’s creativity epitomises a particularly English kind of surreal originality in the rich vein of artists such as Ivor Cutler or Spike Milligan (whom Roddy also worked with). Suffused with warmth, humour and wit, Roddy’s work defies simple definitions and Associative Drifts is an
opportunity to see a small selection of the vast collection of objects, masks, paintings, drawing books and digital art, created over more than 50 years of restlessly inventive work.

Roddy’s life story reads like the best kind of adventure story; with formative years teaching puppetry in Australia in his late teens, before moving back to the UK after being de-mobbed from the RAF and a formal education which included studying art at Heatherly’s followed by the Royal College of Art. At the RCA, Roddy was at the centre of an artistic circle which included Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, David Hockney, Anne Martin, Frank Bowling, William Green, Dick Smith and Robyn Denny. Notably, he also successfully took on the role of editor of the RCA’s ARK Magazine.

In the years after the RCA, Roddy went on to show in numerous exhibitions with his RCA contemporaries, including in an Arts Council Tour of Young Contemporaries in 1957, a group exhibition at Gimpel Fils in 1958 with William Green, Robin Plummer, Anthony Sigrist and Brian Young, and Portal Gallery in 1960 with Peter Blake and Ivor Abrahams. Roddy’s painting Shades of the Last War was exhibited within Pop Art, Midland Group, alongside works by Billy Apple, Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, David Hockney, Patrick Hughes, Peter Phillips, Anna Teasdale, Sam Walsh and Adrian Henri.

Since the 1950’s Roddy’s work has been actively positioned between theatre and art, working between and across theatre, poetry, improvisation and his daily visual art practice. Mask making has always been part of his practice and Roddy was a founder member of Britain’s first Improvisation and Mask Theatre; Theatre Machine, which he developed out of the Royal Court Studio from the mid-60s. At the Royal College of Art Roddy was president of theatre reviews, including ‘One to Another’ which was staged at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1959 starring Beryl Reid, Patrick Wymark and Sheila Hancock. Roddy’s the theatrical life has been illustrious and wide ranging – spanning many productions at the Royal Court and productions in the USA including Mike Nichols’ Broadway production of Ann Jellico’s The Knack, TV episodes of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In and as Edgar, the butler, in Disney’s The Aristocats
in 1970.

Drawing, painting and photomontage have been central to Roddy’s practice throughout his life, and in the last ten years he has also worked digitally. What can be shown within the two exhibition sites represents just a small part of a huge body of work; drawings, paintings, objects, and masks.

The exhibition of paintings at POSK brings together early Pop Art canvases from the 1950s and recent works on cardboard. Taking what was to hand, during the lockdown Roddy began painting onto carboard boxes and appropriating the original printed graphics of the boxes as
sites for new imagery. Playful scenarios emerge, suggesting encounters reminiscent of storybook illustrations. The physicality of these paintings draws attention to the contingent and transitory nature of cardboard, implicit in Roddy’s use of this material, is the need to recycle and to re-use what we have.

At 9 Lower Mall, the exhibition focuses on drawing, photomontage, objects, digital art and film. Much of Roddy’s work is associative and appropriates found objects, discarded low-grade materials found on the street, acquired from broken, or damaged everyday materials –
repurposed to create masks or a whole company of charming, whimsical figures.

Roddy has always worked with drawing books and collectively the displays of books in Associative Drifts represent every decade of his life. Many of the images are meditative, using what he calls his ‘line-by-line’ method where he allows his hand to make the discovery. Allowing what comes next is central to Roddy’s modus operandi. Assorted styles are explored – these drawings are never exercises for a ‘working out’ or ‘working up’ as in traditional sketch books, instead these are completed unique artworks using his memories, imagination, and
fantasy. A selection of digital drawings and montages will also be presented as a digital slideshow, on show on the top floor of 9 Lower Mall.

The film Associative Drifts by Tom Chick, is shown as a projected work within the living room setting of 9 Lower Mall and captures a conversation between Roddy and artist Marcia Farquhar.

Roddy Maude-Roxby, Associative Drifts Paintings: 26th June – 15th July, POSK Gallery 238-446 King Street W6 ORF & Open daily 9am – 6pm

Drawing books, Objects and film: 2nd July – 8th July, 9 Lower Mall Hammersmith W6 9DJ. Private View Saturday 1st July  Open daily 12pm – 6pm




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