'An A-Z of Childhood has taken twelve years to complete, and my own children, who modelled for the hundred or so paintings that made the cut for the exhibition (and another hundred which didn’t), are now teenagers bearing little resemblance to the little people who originally inspired the series.
There were two starting points: the alphabetical series A is for Alice which I painted to celebrate my late sister in 2004 and to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust; and the woodcuts of William Nicholson, which I have always loved. My alphabetical designs are not prints--they are acrylic paintings, which employ the same limited, bold palette of Nicholson’s work, and they aim for a strong, emotional effect. Although they can be, and have been, reproduced, in this show I am offering the original paintings for sale. It will be the first, and perhaps the only chance to see them all collected together in one place. Needless to say, I am both excited and rather sick at the thought of selling my own children. But whilst the subject matter could hardly be more personal to me, the aim was always to produce pictures that celebrate childhood’s enduring and universal themes of joy, role-play and the imagination, and to turn my own small people into cyphers with much wider appeal.
The process of painting two full alphabetical series has led me on a somewhat winding road, which has had a lot to do with my collaboration with the writer Kate Bingham, who has helped me put deeper resonance into the pictures but has also often demanded new images to fit better with her rhyme schemes! This explains why for instance there are sometimes different versions of the same image, or two different ideas illustrated for a given letter. I am grateful to her for helping me to be more critical of my own work- she once said, ‘don't just make the girl hold a hammer, she must really feel as though she’s going to hurt herself with it!’--and just recently it has been thrilling to see two books, Every Girl’s Alphabet and Every Boy’s Alphabet, taking shape under the direction of bookbinder Kate Holland. The discipline of working towards these books has led to the alphabets describing, in a loose sense, the arc of a day, from dawn to bedtime. In fact early on we toyed with Awake to Zzz as a title.
There is a temptation to go for a certain letter because it is the initial letter of a child’s first name. I hope that some people might also want a painting because it illustrates something important to them--acting, fishing, cooking, eating, etc. Although they treat the theme of childhood, these images are for boys and girls of every age, even grown-up ones.
A lot of love has gone into my alphabet pictures, and if you end up owning one of them you will (to paraphrase Kate Bingham) hold a little piece of my heart in your hands.'
Luke Martineau, November 2017
16 November - 18 November 2017
Panter & Hall
11-12 Pall Mall
Monday to Friday
10.00 AM - 6.00 PM
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
CLOSED BANK HOLIDAYS
If you are interested in any of the reserved paintings, it is worth contacting the gallery as there is a chance that they may become available.