9:14 AM 12th October 2020
Artistry Of Lancashire: Stuart Kenworthy - Sken Art Prints
Am I inside
Stuart Kenworthy brings a fresh perspective to the world of art: motivated by offering “off-kilter” and affordable work to potential buyers, many of whom see humour in his creations. His prints are perhaps provocative – open to individual interpretation, but whether you want to analyse his work to the Nth degree, or simply enjoy having the company of his prints on your wall, they will certainly add colour and stimulation to the otherwise dull days of winter.
Stuart takes three approaches to his work. Often he will respond to something in the news, usually political or cultural, and his work will convey his interpretation of a specific element of the matter, rather than providing a direct commentary. He tries to seize something positive from stories that are abrasive or depressing – it perhaps helps him to maintain his inner equilibrium in a world so full of dark news. The second approach is to take an idea that would work as a TV sketch, something absurd, but which has to function as a single image. And the third approach results in his Glimpses – that is, a snapshot to a story. What comes before or happens afterwards is unknown and it prompts a viewer to use their imagination to fill in the blanks.
Behind you stilts baby
Viewers have seen humour in these prints, as said, however for Stuart that was unintentional. It may stem from his previous career in writing TV comedy, which he did for almost two decades until 2017. Both his art and his writing, he says “look(ed) into the world of ‘what if?’ You’re taking the everyday, seeing it from a different perspective and finding out where that leads.” Writing for TV, from which he retired when it had lost its humour for him, also gave him resilience to keep going even when things weren’t working out. At least, he says, if you keep going you stand a chance.
Despite a lack of formal art qualifications Stuart has been involved with photography since the age of sixteen. He began by capturing landscapes and sunsets but the work of Hungarian photographer André Kertesz prompted him to start exploring how photography could be better used as an art form: rather than capturing ‘just’ a scene, he considered what could the scene convey, what could it represent, and could composition be played with or unusual snapshots captured from distinct angles?
Subsequently he has seen shows by and become acquainted with artists such as Martin Parr – known for capturing candid shots of ostensible normalcy, with something odd or comical hidden in plain, truthfully capturing the eccentricities of life, in all its bizarre glory. Other acquaintances, the artists Thomas Joshua-Cooper – who captures palpable drama in black and white, Arthur Tress – whose work embodies powerful, sinister and perturbing surrealism - and Raymond Moore, have all influenced him to some extent. Stuart has made photos all his life, but previous commitments have stopped him from dedicating himself full time to this work until now.
After creating his work digitally on an iPad the artworks are produced as Giclée prints. According to the artist "It is exhilarating to use such a range of styles and methods in each picture". Producing work digitally gives him the power of control over the finished product – unlike previous work with oil, ink and chemical photography, which as other artists will attest to, gives results that can sometimes be unpredictable. He also uses digital photography and “a few sculptural bits to throw into the mix” and it was a TV show featuring David Hockney discussing his digital pictures on the iPad that convinced him this was the avenue he should pursue.
From the humble beginnings of posting his work online, primarily through Facebook, Stuart eventually received an offer of a solo exhibition. He has not yet approached other galleries or curators, which he tells me with in his usual dry wit has not caused any “disappointments.” But, as is the way with the online world, it’s not all been plain sailing. One of his pieces, now one of his most popular prints, was deemed by one individual to be racist – which baffled Stuart. How their reaction and interpretation could be “so wide of the mark.”?
You lose Klan Kid
During lockdown he exhibited online through The Q Gallery (https://www.theqgallery.com/
) and other online platforms and he has a solo exhibition scheduled with That 0282 Place in Burnley – possibly to be held as early as December this year, although more likely to be in early 2021.
Stuart Kenworthy describes himself as a “solitary soul” and taking a break from television where everything was about collaboration, he has enjoyed paddling his own canoe in pursuit of his creative aspirations. He would like to involve himself more in the Lancastrian art world, he admires the work of Jamie Holman (https://jamieholman.com/
) and Alex Zawadski (https://www.alexzawadzki.co.uk/
) and has often drawn inspiration from shows held at the Harris Museum in Preston. He thinks They Eat Culture (http://theyeatculture.org/
), again in Preston, work tirelessly to bring a diverse range of art into the community.
Stuart feels that art is undervalued for the extrinsic benefits it can provide. In his opinion, art is viewed as a commodity first and foremost, which is of course a great shame, but perhaps, by giving his work an affordable price tag people might start to appreciate how it makes them think, feel and respond.
As and when Covid restrictions permit and venturing into public becomes more appealing, you may catch sight of Stuart taking a daily walk around Preston wearing a t-shirt bearing the images of his latest creations and he has even toyed with the idea of creating a mobile exhibition of his work. The upcoming solo exhibition will be called Deep Fried Swan
and will take place with That 0282 Place in Burnley late 2020/early 2021. (That 0282 Place are a non-profit CIC and their gallery space is on the top floor of Burnley Library – more info to be found here: http://0282doings.blogspot.com/?m=1
In the meantime, you can find and purchase Stuart’s work online via the following platforms:
and follow him on Twitter @Skenwobbly