Don't Let the Bastards Cheer You Up
Artist and writer Harland Miller presents a collection of paintings and montages at BALTIC from this May. These works, located on the ground floor, have been made or adapted, specifically for BALTIC from a series of works Miller has referred to as the Bad Weather paintings. Based on the dust jackets of old Penguin books they are painterly reproductions of these iconic classics but with fictitious titles that are specific to the North East where Miller himself grew up.
In execution these works reference American abstraction, and German expressionism, which when combined with his writers love of text, create a feeling of belonging to a tradition of very English pop art. As such, the resultant work, which hints at the beat up nature of old paperbacks, evokes a wilful sense of nostalgia within which there are equal measures of the humour and tragedy innate in the culture of the north: Bridlington - Costal Erosion – It’s Not All Bad News; Yorkshire – It Was A Struggle When Times Were Good and You Can Rely On Me – I’ll Always Let You Down.
Using knowledge gained from research for his latest novel Reclaim the Night, Miller has made a series of large paintings based on the billboard information widely disseminated by the West Yorkshire Police to help catch the Yorkshire Ripper in 1978. The police campaign was founded on the belief that hoax letters and tapes sent to them by Wearside Jack, a North East man, who only recently was identified and convicted as John Samuel Humble. The poster incorporated samples of the hoaxer’s writings as well as a telephone number to call in order to listen to his voice and a second number to call if you recognised either.
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