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The Apple Doesn't Fall Far

Tony Whitfield Retrospective & Amy South

 Photo © Colin Davison

18 December, 2020

Pilgrim Street

‘The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far’ is a retrospective exhibition of artist Tony Whitfield’s work. B. 1957, Stannington, Northumberland and is curated by his daughter, Amy South and The Globe Gallery.

Whitfield, once a plasterer by trade, unexpectedly entered the world of art following an injury at work. From an Art GCSE in 1995 he went on the study for a BA degree at Northumbria University in 1999.

Freed from the constraints of his trade, with a deep appreciation of the working material, Whitfield was able to challenge the materiality and processes of plaster and began adapting and reinventing Secco, Fresco and Bocco painting techniques.

Stains of liquid plaster, bare screws, and edges of exposed plasterboard reveal Whitfield’s process, standing in contrast to highly finished, often mirror smooth surfaces. His work is constructed using materials and techniques which combine pigmented plaster, layers of carving, biro and acrylic paint and thin layers of varnish glaze.

Whitfield’s negotiation with colour, form and space has changed a lot through the years, but the interconnection is present in the translation of something immaterial, a phenomena that transcends the work’s physical form. His use of colour and space throughout his work embodies his deeper experience and offers an opportunity for the viewer to step beyond the parameters of everyday material reality, all while being grounded in the absolute physicality of his work.

“Art has given me a place to escape to and I escaped into my art. Art became therapy to me. Life is therapy in a way. Sometimes it’s good therapy sometimes it’s bad. I think that it’s important to realise and remember that there is much more going on in this life than meets the eye.”

‘The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far’ follows Amy’s three week fundraiser, entitled ‘My Dad’s Apple’ which raised over £9000. The funds helped to provide Tony with alternative cancer treatment and a comfortable living environment following a severely delayed stage 4 Cancer diagnosis, due to restricted access to doctors and hospitals during the Coronavirus pandemic. The exhibition is born out of their situation, and represents a bond between father, daughter and art.

‘My Dad’s Apple’ was inspired by a small apple gifted to Amy by her Dad days before his diagnosis. Anthony cleared away the dying trees surrounding one – now healthy – apple tree and this year it produced a single apple which, for Amy “…is a symbol of hope, regeneration and determination in these dark and desperate times.” The apple was small, a tart green; a modest, sincere and deeply symbolic gift manifest into art and more importantly into an energetic drive. Amy said: “I feel that this apple represents our shared fight to save my Dad’s life in the same way he saved the tree. If we cannot save his life, I hope that we can at least make sure that during his final days, he is held in comfort, love and dignity.”

‘My Dad’s Apples’ have been created by Amy in collaboration with a sculptor who goes by the pseudonym of Untitled Artist.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped make this exhibition happen in such extraordinarily difficult times. It has been a great privilege and pleasure to have had the opportunity to work with Tony and Amy on this show and despite not being able to launch in our unusual way, ‘The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far’ will remain in situ until we are able to open to the public.

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