Alex Turnbull, champion skateboarder, DJ, a core member of the band 23 Skidoo, is the son of British artist William ‘Bill’ Turnbull. He made a film about his father and his work. William Turnbull flew airplanes in the Second World War, and this experience among other things, came through in his work.
“Bill was a polymath at a time when that was a dirty word, shifting between sculpture and painting and putting both in a symbiotic relationship. Now crossing boundaries is everywhere: think of hip-hop. Johnny and I were in a band whose name referenced a William Burroughs short story. Burroughs used, as we did, cut-up techniques, collaging and sampling. We were oblivious to the fact that a lot of that aesthetic was in what Bill did until I made the film.”
Alex’s film, William Turnbull – Beyond Time will be screened in the UK on BBC4 very soon. For all us non-UK residents, we will just have to bide our time, and home the film comes around our way soon.
The trailer is below, and you can find out more on William Turnbull and the trait inherited by Alex and Johnny in the Guardian article published today.
The Garden Museum in London has hundreds of historic images of gardeners, but most are described by the director as “looking a bit battered and sad” and not one of them is black. Its newly acquired painting of a handsome man leaning on his spade looking thoughtfully into the distance is not only unique in its collection but, according to Christopher Woodward, the museum’s director, unique in British art.
The Black Gardener, originally called The Negro Gardener, was painted by Harold Gilman in 1905. The artist, a keen gardener, lived in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, the world’s first garden city, created as pioneering response to the squalor and grime of 19th-century urban Britain.
Woodward describes the subject as “a heroic figure”, a very rare full-length study of a black man who is neither servile nor in fancy dress, but also an enigma.
“We suspect this man was a model – if only because nobody in their senses ever did heavy digging barefoot in the British weather – although we may yet discover that he was a real gardener on somebody’s estate, but we know no more about him. We would love to discover his name, and we hope our visitors may be able to help when he goes on display,”