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Who dunnit? Richard Webb, in the museum with the lino cutter

PUBLISHED: 17:22 29 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:40 18 August 2015

Cirencester artist Richard Kenton Webb was influenced by crime fiction for his latest exhibition, ‘Still Life with Blackbirds’, from September 20 - October 18 at the Corineum Museum. Joe Meredith finds out what started Richard’s interest in the macabre world of crime fiction.

Q: What was the inspiration for the ‘Still Life with Blackbirds’ exhibition?

When I was in Hasselt in Belgium with my students in 2012, I created fifteen charcoal drawings that seemed to have a ‘whodunit’ narrative. Because I was in a new place in a different culture, thoughts and ideas surfaced and crystalized. I had time in the evenings to craft it into a series of drawings that told a story.

Q: Why do you think you’re drawn to the macabre world of crime fiction?

I have always enjoyed solving problems. I read a lot of crime fiction (mainly Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Stieg Larsson, Colin Dexter, John le Carré and Henning Mankell) and enjoy suspense thrillers like The Bridge, Endeavor and Foyle’s War. I have always loved the idea of getting to the bottom of something and solving a riddle; it’s a bit like archaeology too. When I paint and draw, I have to find a solution, so I guess it’s the way my mind works!

Q: How have you found the process of collaborating with a writer?

You have to stay very open to each other’s creative process, because it’s full of surprises. It’s been a lovely adventure for both of us.

Q: Do you have plans to work with other writers in future exhibitions?

I would like to work with Joanne more, but I’m always open to suggestions.

Q: What’s your experience of working as an artist in Cirencester and wider Gloucestershire?

Having lived in Gloucestershire for nearly thirty years, I feel so connected to the ancient, unspoilt landscape. We have so many places that are very special to us as a family. We must have walked miles over the years. I wouldn’t know where to start if I was asked to list them all, but I particularly like ancient places with a story to tell, like burial forts and standing stones. When it comes to Cirencester, I love the amphitheatre, the river and Cirencester Park. As I walk around the area, I’m so aware that there could be ancient treasure beneath my feet. This is such a lived-in landscape, with many layers of history.

Q: You utilise lino cutting in your work; what do you like about this medium and how does it compare to other traditional artistic mediums (illustration, painting etc.)?

The process of creating a linocut sits very comfortably between drawing, painting and sculpture. When you create a linocut, you are shaping a cut line. You can then print that using colour. I create my own inks using pigments, so it’s very exciting to see the colour, rhythm, line and shape coming together when I print up the linocut from my press onto paper. I love painting and sculpture and it all comes together in this medium, ‘relief printing’.

Q: When and where can people see the exhibition ‘Still Life with Blackbirds’?

Still Life with Black Birds is on at the Corinium Museum from September 20 to October 18. The Corinium Museum is a very fitting venue because of the links between Joanne’s story and the Corinium’s fine collection of archaeological and historical artefacts.

I am also giving a talk about my work (as well as a demonstration of how to make a linocut) on Thursday October 16, 7-8pm in the lecture room at the Corinium Museum.


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