Clive Barker's Worlds and Words

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Presented by the City of West Hollywood through its Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission, this exhibition will be on view through January 2014 at the West Hollywood Library during regular operating hours (M-Th, 11-7; Fr-Sa, 10-6) and is free to attend. The exhibit will include rarely seen original artwork by Clive Barker, historic hand-painted movie posters, and images of handwritten manuscripts by Clive that provide a glimpse into the process behind his writing.

Man and Ship

Artist's Statement

Curating a body of work drawn from sixty years of creativity across multiple media allows patterns to be drawn between familiar and otherwise unseen works. Through this process, threads can be traced to earlier tales and connections charted between the worlds in Clive Barker’s imagination. “I’ve spent my creative life so far,” says the painter, writer, film-maker, imaginer, “first in the theatre, then on the page, then on the screen – and always in sketches and artwork – examining what is turning out as I grow older to look like one enormous landscape. I have escaped into dream worlds all my life but what I originally thought were different worlds turn out to be one interconnected place. And like a bedspread viewed by a sick child from his pillow, I am very aware that there are colours in various corners which I know very well, but I haven’t yet found the ways to get from the blue to the green and from the green to the red. I’ve just begun, and I suppose that’s become my preoccupation – the idea that at one point I will see it clearly.

“I think one of the things that we miss in making stories and art is the notion that it’s all a journal. That it’s all a reflection of a particular state of mind, at a particular time in our lives. I know, looking back over practically everything I’ve written in the last ten years, I could not write those things now. I’ve changed, I’m in a different place. I don’t believe the same things, the people who were in my life who were the basis for many of those characters have moved on, I have a different response to life, I have a different response to death.

“The making of a piece of work is in a sense an expulsion of that piece of work from your psyche; you make it, you tell the story, you write the screenplay, you paint the picture, and the thing is gone from you. That’s what the process is – it’s a process of driving it out and passing it on to somebody else. So at the end of the process, you’re a different person from the one you were in the beginning because something has happened – the process has made you different. So what I’ve found is that the work advances me. It changes me. And in the business of being changed, my priorities, my criteria change. And so, at the end of the process, I am incapable of making what I just made. Each piece is a new adventure.

"There is no absolute means by which you can judge the excellence of what you’ve done. All you can say is, I did this from the heart, and this is where I was at the time."

In looking at the pieces of Clive Barker’s bedspread on these walls, in embarking on a quest to define specific influences and events that shape an imagination there is, similarly, no single word or place from which this or any other story springs…

[On embarking on a quest to define specific influences and events that shape an imagination there is, similarly, no single word or place from which this or any other story springs...]"Biographies will try and insist that there is, but I honestly don’t think there is. I don’t think the human mind works that way, I don’t think imagination works that way. I think what happens is there is a slow accrual of realisations, some of which are personal, some of which are academic; but it builds. I don’t think there’s a movie moment in which somebody clicks their fingers and a light turns on above their heads and they say, ‘Gee, you know, I always wanted to be a writer… or a painter…’ That certainly wasn’t my experience.”

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