Ray Richardson: Londons No One

By Louisa Emery on October 13, 2011 3:19 PM |

ray richardson3.JPGIt's all grits and gravy according to artist Ray Richardson.

The phrase, originally used by his dad to describe soul music, sums up his show at the Ben Oakley Gallery in Greenwich.

Richardson said: "The title of the exhibition is Londons No One - you can read it as 'London's number one' or 'London's no-one'.

"That's the point. Everyone has their own story and everyone's story is equally important.

"It's about me and my family, about growing up in Woolwich. I am influenced by films, music and life. It's all chucked in.

"There is a nostalgic theme to the show but it is more reflective. You go through life and think about the mistakes you have made and want to redress them in your head. It's like the memories you get from hearing a record."

Images of the Woolwich ferry feature prominently in his work, as do the streets of his childhood and his family.

His favourite piece is of his brother Al.

ray richardson220.JPG

He said: "It's about me and him as kids, about optimism. It's about jumping over puddles and thinking you can take on the world, then realising you can't."

His association with east London encompasses Greenwich too. He was part of the group who set up Meantime Brewery, designing the labels and coming up with the name after playing on the same football team as the other founders.

Ben Oakley, who owns the gallery, invited Richardson to exhibit and he said it was the most enjoyable show he had ever done. He said the space - all distressed walls, bare plaster and leather sofas - allowed him to work in a different way.

He said: "Normally I make paintings and prints but I came own here and thought this place was fantastic and a chance for me to do something new and totally fresh. I used Conte crayon, put down a layer of oil paint, drew on that then more oil paint and drew on top of that.

"Everything has just flowed. I'm making work that is talking about life. It has been like counselling in a way."

Richardson was a contemporary of the Young British Artists at Goldsmiths College but wasn't part of that crowd.

He said: "We got encouraged to put on our own shows in the common room. I just made a load of posters of James Brown with 'I've Got A Bag Of My Own' on them. I wasn't part of it and I didn't realise it was going on. I rowed my own boat."

Ray's brother will be in the gallery on the closing night of the exhibition, performing harmonica with guitarist Matt Percival.

■ Londons No One, Ben Oakley Gallery, 9 Turpin Lane, Greenwich, Sep 30-Oct 29, Thur-Sun 11am-6pm, FREE, benoakleygallery.com.