Guilding the Summertown: New Paintings and Objects by Eddie Summerton and Derrick Guild

New Paintings and Objects by Eddie Summerton ARSA and Derrick Guild

An investigation and exploration of images and ideas running concurrently through the paintings of Edward Summerton ARSA and Derrick Guild which will culminate in a limited-edition artist’s publication. Art historical references will blend with popular and domestic images highlighting the darker side of European childrens’ tales and traditional decoration. The artists will exhibit, for the first time together, objects made from their paintings, the documentation of which will become the artists book.


Guilding The Summer Town

Once upon a Scottish housing estate in those long-ago golden days (and monochrome TV) two boys grew tall in a haze of televisual Grimm Aesops, Singing Trees and other Eastern European worlds. They worked hard and eventually found themselves enjoying employment together in an art college in Dundee. By chance they discovered the art they were making was strange and somehow different from the art the older boys were making and decided to show it to them in the RSA in the capital city.


Derrick Guild and Edward Summerton now show it to you.


It’s no coincidence that when Dundee Contemporary Arts opened in 1999 the first movie they showed was “The Singing Ringing Tree” (1957). Made in Babelsberg studios in East Berlin and funded by Soviet treasure to prove communism was a success, the “Tree” looms large in our generation’s early memories. We were not so taken with Disney’s healing sheen as our parents had been after the horrors of WWII. In Scotland we recognised the coldness of this tale from our brothers in the opposing margin of future Europe – it exuded an uncomfortable strangeness that mirrored our young emotions. In our race for cultural homogenization in the world it will become harder to find so different a visual vocabulary, one that can give birth to such strange art. Real art looks strange because we have not seen it before.


Parents themselves now, the boys are reminded of their formative influences and revisit that over-lit realm. Guild understands his illuminations as Memento Mori. In this case the ambrosia of Victorian illustration is needled with the portent of the written message. His sure hand is comfortable with the surface of painting and object, he has found his language and can watch it crawl into enemy territory. These are a new foray for him into a lighter palette belying the works’ darker message. Summerton’s imagery enjoys similar opposing themes. The relentless rain and thorns have a patterned inevitability about them ensuring you know something inherently worrying lies within. His book interventions have a sense of loss and humour that greatly enhance the unintentional bleakness of the originals. The exhibition is hung with artists’ work shown alternatively side by side to create a dialogue/narrative between them. As in the micro and the macro of the individual pieces, the show can be read as a whole and up close.


The exhibition shimmers perfectly in the new (and painfully overdue, by decades) Project room – a space destined for more experimental work than is usual at the RSA. This is a show by two artists with strong personalities operating in the margins of the margins by choice. Come travelling with them now then through the golden summer town of all our fledgling memories.


Michael Windle
November 2004