A life’s work on show at Gordon

Richard Gordon with Siobhan Livingstone ahead of tonights exhibition opening at the Gordon Gallery, Pump Street. (0404PG01)
Richard Gordon with Siobhan Livingstone ahead of tonights exhibition opening at the Gordon Gallery, Pump Street. (0404PG01)

A second retrospective of works by celebrated Derry-born artist Richard Livingstone opens at Gordon Gallery on Pump Street this evening, April 5.

The exhibition ‘Endgame: Retrospective Part II’ will be officially opened by Nick Livingston, the Arts Council’s Director of Strategic Development, at 7pm, and the works cover five decades from the 1970s.

The ‘Journal’ spoke to the late artist’s widow, Siobhan Livingstone, about her husband’s legacy.

“The first retrospective was in September 2011 and was small works, so this is an exhibition of Richard’s larger works in a variety of different styles,” Siobhan explained.

“Richard passed away in March 2010 - three years ago last week - but he was never a commercial artist and always wanted his work to be seen and appreciated by people - that was his main focus.”

The Livingstone family live between Derry and Donegal and since the late artist’s death in 2010, his family are now in control of his estate and remain passionate about showcasing Richard’s work to the wider world.

Richard Gordon, of Gordon Gallery, said that Richard Livingstone’s work had distinct themes, particularly towards the end of his life. “Naturally, departure and crossing-over formed some of his last themes, which was very prophetic really,” Mr Gordon said.

Siobhan Livingstone added: “All through his life he was fascinated by the human connection to the world and to the afterlife. Certainly in the last 15-20 years, he had a big focus on moving on and the transition from life to death and how humans deal with that.”

Many of the artists works depict heads, which Siobhan explains: “I believe he began creating heads after visiting Cill Rialaig, the artist’s retreat in West Kerry, where he became fascinated by Celtic mythology and the monks and Colmcille. I suppose he was trying to come to terms with the spiritual world and our world, and that’s when he began doing heads.

“Richard actually had five of his huge steel heads erected in the Urban Park, where the Derry Tourist Office is now, and that work was called Veil of Tears. I’ve still got three of the heads but two have went missing in the years since.”

Over the course of his lifetime, Richard Livingstone exhibited in Brazil, Canada, France, India, Ireland, Poland, Taiwan, the UK and the USA. His work is also found in the collections of both the Arts Council of England and Northern Ireland, as well as in galleries and museums in Brazil, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Poland and the USA.

“He did sell paintings a lot, but never for anything too huge,” Siobhan Livingstone recalls with fondness. “We were on holiday once and he came home to find out that one of his prints had been bought by Bono! So that was his big commercial success, his pinnacle - he used to laugh and joke that Bono owning one of his paintings was his claim to fame.”

“There are so many different styles of work,” she continued, “Some of his work involved using tin cans which he would collect to cut up and use. He also collected sand from special places that meant something to him and that he felt a connection to, and he would use that in his work too. In fact, there are still little labelled bags of sand sitting in our house now!”

“Richard was also very interested in the brain and how it worked. He was also a great experimenter with materials and so many pieces are a mixture of media because he just liked creating different effects - he never knew how things were going to turn out. He was like a child playing, to tell you the truth! Never happier than when he was covered in paint,” his wife smiled.

Don’t miss the opening of ‘Endgame: Retrospective Part II’ at Gordon Gallery on Pump Street this evening from 6pm until 8.30pm. The exhibition will run until April 27. www.gordon-gallery.com