Damp larders and drain rods: Roger Phillpot exhibition

Roger Phillpot with his 'Lady Muck' sculpture at Deerhurst, Gloucestershire

Roger Phillpot with his 'Lady Muck' sculpture at Deerhurst, Gloucestershire - Credit: Archant

Artist Roger Phillpot is not someone who tends to do things by the book.

'Bugger the cabbages' by Roger Phillpot

'Bugger the cabbages' by Roger Phillpot - Credit: Archant

The fantastically quirky artist was born in 1942 and had a working-class childhood in Brighton. As a child he loved to draw, but pursued a career in surveying, and it was only on early retirement that he returned to art, graduating in 2002 with a Fine Art degree with honours.

'Cakes that give us tummy aches' by Roger Phillpot

'Cakes that give us tummy aches' by Roger Phillpot - Credit: Archant

He now lives in the west of France, but has brought his one-man exhibition, portraying his childhood memories of Vim and scrubbed front steps, Beanos and outdoor latrines, to a new gallery space in Gloucestershire…

Roger Phillpot's winter exhibition, Deerhurst, 2013

Roger Phillpot's winter exhibition, Deerhurst, 2013 - Credit: Archant

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'Lady Muck' by Roger Phillpot

'Lady Muck' by Roger Phillpot - Credit: Archant

What made you move to France, Roger?

I bought the house 20 years ago while on holiday and told the owners that I wasn’t interested in buying it unless I could buy the barn on site too [which is now his studio], so they said “Well, you can have it for nothing, then”. In those days they practically gave away properties.

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Tell me about your Brighton childhood…

I grew up, one of seven kids, in a two-up-two-down. As a kid people used to say “you’re such a drawer”, but I had to leave all that behind when I went into the world of work. My paintings are all about Brighton, my parents, my family and life in the 1950s as a young boy.

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How do you create your pieces?

I sketch in acrylic, use a collage of newspaper print and paint over the top in oils. I use the Brighton Argus, which we always had in the house when I was a kid. My father did everything with the Evening Argus: he used it when he was working as a plasterer; he’d light the fire with it; he’d get the smoke to draw up the chimney; we used it for toilet paper…

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Who is the fabulous ‘Lady Muck’ shown in your paintings and lifesize sculpture?

That’s my mum! When my mother was young she was in service, and when the lady of the house was out my mum would play the part and pretend to be in charge. She’s peeling potatoes, but acting like she’s royalty [in the sculpture she’s holding a sink-plunger ‘sceptre’ and potato ‘orb’].

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I love the detail in your work, such as that image of your dad sleeping in his wheelbarrow surrounded by musical instruments, false teeth and matches; and the beds with guzunders and suitcases…

I always imagined that my mum had a suitcase somewhere packed and ready; she worked so hard with seven kids that I always used to think she had this outlet and would be ready to go if it all got too much. But they didn’t in those days; they stuck with it.

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How did you choose the title of the exhibition?

Every Sunday my mum used to make Victoria sponge with strawberry jam – I wrote a poem of the same name about my childhood memories – so it seemed appropriate.

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Roger Phillpot’s exhibition, ‘Victoria Sponge and Strawberry Jam’ runs from November 30 until December 15 at Nuthatch Conference Rooms, Deerhurst Priory, GL19 4BX, tel: 01684 293358 or 07719 715788.

Find out more about Roger Phillpot’s work at www.rogerphillpot.co.uk

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About the gallery…

The gallery space is housed on the top floor of a converted dairy, which houses Nuthatch Conference Rooms at Deerhurst Priory, next to the church.

Owned by farmer Tim Morris’s family for over 200 years and now run by him and his wife, the building was sympathetically converted by Ashleworth builder Ian Spencer.

The space is available to hire for conferences, parties, exhibitions, etc. Call Cate Morris on 01684 293358 or visit www.deerhurstbandb.co.uk

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