‘Eternal Child’, the new solo exhibition by Athol Whitmore is the next chapter from this dynamic Oxford-based artist. Fresh from the completion of his ‘Multitude of Stories’ project for the Oxford Children’s Hospital, an installation using toy cars, Athol continues his journey through the motifs of childhood.
The deeply evocative works that Athol creates marvel in the essence of play and highlights the importance of childhood. His is a magpie approach to his artistic practice, seeking out vintage curios and imagery to spark a nostalgic response in the viewer. One could take the view that he manipulates us with a rose-tinted, idealized view of a childhood gone by, with a ‘Famous Five’ sense of freedom and adventure, provoking thoughts on how precious childhood is.
In this exhibition, we can expect to see a highly eclectic body of work as Athol lets his imagination take the reins using Victorian mirrors, vintage chairs and plates, collages of vintage stamps and letters, wherever he can see the potential to create an art work, and combining the discarded objects with media such as gloss paint, enamel and duct tape to depict nostalgic images in his distinctive pop-art aesthetic. It is an eye-catching technique, transforming vintage objects into powerful, glossy and bright artworks and inviting us to reconnect with the potential of play and our inner child.
‘Eternal Child’ will follow Athol as he delves deeper into his extensive archive of vintage objects, re-appropriating them to create compelling art works. Visitors will find that his work has developed further with a clarity of line and a more direct conversation taking place between the medium and the image. In recent works, Athol has been exploring the Victorian technique of painting on glass, trapping the image behind a new glossy surface. There is a simple attractive quality to the technique but when placed in the context of Athol’s work, it makes the motif slightly removed from us and more challenging for the viewer to grasp, therefore metaphorically embodying his ideas on childhood.
Athol Whitmore lives and works in Oxford. He studied at Jordanstone School of Art for his BA and MFA. He has developed a multi-disciplinary approach to his practice and has completed his first major public art work this year for the Oxford Children’s Hospital. Athol Whitmore has exhibited in the UK and abroad in galleries and at art fairs.