Phill Hopkins in X

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An exhibition of drawings, paintings, photographs, prints, constructions and collages, showcasing an unravelling of narratives from news stories and the political climate.

From his studio - an unassuming garden shed on the outskirts of Leeds - Phill Hopkins unravels narratives from our news. Using media stories, often depicting world situations, political events and places of conflict, he attempts, through his art, to make sense of what he encounters.

Hopkins works with materials discarded and found; scavenged and rescued from skips; passed-over, passed-on, donated and unearthed. He digs into surfaces, drips and daubs and obscures; dignifying, redeeming and resurrecting abandoned and everyday things. He’s continually re-creating; he breathes new life into them.

As the artist himself says, “The surfaces that I make work on and the materials that I choose are as important as my subject matter. I am interested in materials that come from the time that I am living in now. I use very ordinary things; my supplies come from hardware shops, things that I find as I'm going about or items that have been put aside and then passed onto me.
Pieces of melamine discarded from old kitchens, offcuts of plywood with the penciled workings-out of a joiner, household paints and varnish, water-based gloss conflicting with part-used tubes of oil paints…these materials resonate with me, I know and recognise this stuff. I understand it as a kind of archaeology of the present. When these are used in the form of subject they present themselves as something that is left ,or indeed, ghost-like...”

Themes and motifs repeat and recur throughout Hopkins’ work - they are picked up, played with, reworked, and then left alone again for a while. Images of houses, as Derek Horton notes, “remind us simultaneously of a place of refuge and a place of confinement. They signify both the private home of the 'nuclear family' and the social space of the housing estate, embodying both the separateness of the individual and the uniformity of the mass.” They also represent Hopkins’ ongoing artistic excavation of his childhood home in Tewther Road, Bristol (where his parents still live).

Meanwhile, blizzards of words - on book pages, in brochures and on paint charts - disappear beneath blankets of snowy-white paint; and what Hopkins (who has always struggled with dyslexia) leaves exposed reveals potential new meanings.

Drones and stealth bombers fly across wallpaper backdrops and impose themselves upon aspirational magazine images; temporary gaswork fencing and drawings of a doomed sports centre recontextualise the flyers collected by Hopkins at the Frieze art fair; the phone masts and looming communications towers of Cookridge turn more paint charts into skylines.

In Hopkins’ work, ideas are layered and lost and rediscovered and revisited - there are deep rewards there for the viewer who’s prepared to invest some time and immerse themselves in it. And so, punctuated by text lifted from the artist’s email conversations with curator Si Smith, this exhibition brings together drawings, paintings, photographs, prints, constructions and collages from the past ten years, showcasing Hopkins’ prolific outpouring of engaging and thought-provoking art.

Phill Hopkins was born in Bristol in 1961 and has been an artist based in Leeds since graduating from Goldsmiths College, London in 1985. He exhibits both nationally and internationally, with recent shows at Leeds’ own BasementArtsProject, Charlie Smith London and Galerie You, Canada.
His piece ‘Refugees Walk Through The Port of Piraeus’ was included in the 2017 Left Bank Leeds Summer Show. His work resides in various public and private collections including The Leeds Collection; The Imperial War Museum, London; The Nanjing Baijia Lake International Culture Investment Group China; Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and The Hungarian Museum of Photography.

THURS 1 MARCH 19:00-21:00
Join artist, Phill Hopkins; curator of ‘X’, Si Smith; and Bruce Davies, curator and chair of BasementArtsProject, for a conversation about Hopkins’ work over the past decade. Topics include the use of found materials, motifs and thier meanings, how the global impacts upon the domestic, and the importance of nding creative space to work in.