Darren Coffield‘s solo exhibition Black Rain has just opened at Thames-side Studios Gallery. The sho features a group of works which began with the death of Princess Diana in 1997. At the time he was struck by the public expressions of grief, mass hysteria and classical themes echoing through the news channels, as the Princess, named after the ancient goddess Diana ‘The Huntress’, became the hunted.
“There is something to be said for extraordinary public delusions and the madness of crowds but when I made the first drawing, I had no idea that it would lead to a series of works executed over a 25-year period.
If history is happening all around us and we are living through it, who decides how it is recorded and represented? People in power often use photography to ape classical paintings to project their status; pedigree and propaganda. So, I began to mix photographs of European royalty and American presidents with old master paintings to explore classical themes. A good example of this is the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana titled, The Ballad of Charles and Di, it has Nicolas Poussin’s The Triumph of David processing through it with Goliath’s severed head on a pole. The British press often portrays the doomed marriage as the plucky princess taking on the might of the British Establishment, after all, it’s a classic David and Goliath story except that in Diana’s case, Goliath won.
As well as dealing with classical themes, the artworks also mirror what was happening in the wider world during the 25 years in which they were created. When I began the series mobile phones were a rarity and all the images were projected on tiny 35 mm slides. After the millennium, came the rise of the internet, with its search engines and conspiracy theories feeding into the works.
But it wasn’t until my second decade of working on the series and the election of President Trump denouncing ‘Fake News’ that I realised I had been dealing with it for years, except that in my profession we call it art history.” – Darren Coffield, November 2022
About the artist:
Darren Coffield featured in the BBC2 series, Sensationalists: The Bad Girls and Boys of British Art. His last book, Tales from the Colony Room is being made into a feature-length film due for release in 2023 and his latest book, Queens of Bohemia and Other Miss-fits, will be published in 2024.
Darren is based at Thames-Side Studios in Woolwich. To see more of his work visit www.darcoff.com
Thames-Side Studios Gallery is at Thames-Side Studios, Harrington Way, Warspite Road, Royal Borough of Greenwich, London SE18 5NR. The gallery open Thursday to Sunday 12-5pm during exhibitions and by appointment. Darren’s show runs for 28th Jan until 12th Feb 2023