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by Lennon


I have written here a brief outline of my artistic project, along with two stories, to describe how I process my experiences into paintings. I have chosen these two events because they relate most clearly to Solo the ground aluminium painting that is now in the Pallant House Gallery Collection.

There is a complex problem at the heart of my work, i.e. how to regain for painting two of the most powerful forces lost to it from the Scientific Revolution and finally by the two World Wars of the early 20th. Century: the illusionism of Central Point Perspective (Space), and Anatomical Representation (Body). The intense motivation for this coming from my discovery of the Holocaust and the realisation that those ways in conventional forms of representational Art were at the heart of Fascism, i.e. the confusion of personal knowledge (feelings) and objective knowledge (Science). I had to find my own way out of this problem.

I decided in 1969 to make my work relate to the medium of painting because painting has a given condition, the vertical picture plane, the plane of illusion, (unlike sculpture, which has no givens). All man-made things are reflexive of the maker. Seeing too is reflexive. From this observation, I could see the possibility of creating, in terms of painting, a fuller, deeper experience of the body, than that of ourselves as objects: through the immediacy of the painting as a man-made thing, and through the illusory plane, evoking the qualities, desires and feelings of the first, the symbiotic body of the Mother/Child. The spacial illusions that I employ are those of normal everyday seeing, and the sensual ever-changing perceptions of sizes and dimensions.


When I was a young boy my mother let me paint the back wall of the house, but only as long as I used water instead of paint. As I painted the stuccoed wall with the water, to my great delight it caused the wall to darken, glisten and shine. It changed all the time depending on the sunlight. I desperately needed to share this with my mother… Look! Look! Ma. Quick! Quick! before it dries. It was a restless performance and the timing was crucial… to get the wall wet, the sun to shine and my mother to come out from behind the wall, all at the same time.

It was difficult, but when it all came together, it felt Great! and I soon needed to do it all over again.


When I was fifteen I left home. I joined the Royal Green Jackets Regiment and trained as a Rifleman Recruit at their Training Camp on Badger Farm Road, Winchester (Nov. 1962 to Mar. 1963). Two weeks before ‘Marching Out’ my father found me and I was Honourably Discharged by Col. Shouldice, who asked me to return when I was of age.

In April 2011 with the help and encouragement of my friend Dr. David Sinclair (who lives in Titchfield), we went to find the Camp on Badger Farm Road. At first I didn’t recognize the place because the road had been widened, but I immediately knew that sweep of the entrance and the camber of the narrow road leading up to the Sentry Post, and to the left, what remained of the Guard House where I once spent two weeks for being AWOL. We walked up to the Parade Ground. The buildings had all been knocked down, leaving just the rusting skeletal girder frames the concrete floors and the steps. I walked around remembering and recognizing the flint and chalk ground, and the trees along the perimeter of the Camp, beyond which I knew there to be a river. Gradually a strange feeling and a change occurred in me. I felt a distance growing between David and myself and the feeling that I was back once again in my fifteen year old self, feeling heavy, with a weighty feeling caused by the sheer size of the Parade Ground and dreamlike, at a remove from my older self, my talking, articulate older self. David, sensitive to what was occurring, stepped back and allowed me some time alone to absorb what was happening to me. Afterwards, I felt that I had regained an abandoned part of myself. I felt better, more integrated, grounded and oddly quiet, almost mute.

A few days later I was back in my studio in Dublin, and while I was sanding an aluminium block, intending to apply paint to it… my arm refused to reach for the paint and continued to grind into the aluminium. I realised that it was making its own pigment! I added water medium for a binder, and there it was! The industrialised metal returning with me back to ‘the core’1.

Dublin, 2012

Editor’s Note 1: ‘The core’ is the colloquialism for Inchicore, Lennon’s birthplace.


Solo, 2011, ground aluminium pigment and acrylic medium on
aluminum block, 15″ x 12″, collection of Pallant House Gallery,
Chichester, United Kingdom.