Peter Kennard has spent most of his life
in London, and has been considerably more involved than most in the
capital's political gatherings during the last 25 years.
As a young artist he was a painter, much
influenced by the "intense and merciless" etchings of Goya.
Dissatisfied with painting's lack of immediacy, he took up
photomontage for its ability to show the "unrevealed truth" behind
His two major subjects quickly emerged:
armaments and poverty. This was the early eighties with 3 million
unemployed, Thatcher in her first term girding her loins for the
Falklands War, and the CND at the height of its popularity. Kennard
had an audience.
For the next few years his images were
everywhere. A series of touring exhibitions took his work into the
galleries, but it was on the streets of Britain and Europe where
they had maximum impact.
"The point of my work is to use easily
accessible iconic images, but to render them unacceptable. To break
down the image of the all-powerful missile....after breaking them,
to show new possibilities emerging in the cracks and
splintered fragments of the old reality."
His belief at this time was that
photomontage had the power to show the causes rather than the
results. In recent times however, he seems to have had his
doubts: "There is a problem with montage in that you see it
everywhere now because of digital technology. There is so much
transformed imagery around that people accept constructed images
without questioning their meaning. I think my work was losing
impact because of that."
As a result Kennard has devoted himself
more to his teaching (he is now Senior Lecturer in Photography at
the Royal Art School where he was a student) and to returning to
his first love, painting. But he has not by any means given up his
political activism: he regularly turns up at the London Stock
Exchange with a barrow full of images and sets up an impromptu
exhibition in the street, much to the consternation of passing
Further information about Peter
can be found on his website:
A 35 minute video that he made with
Chris Rodrigues and Ron Stoneman can be seen here:
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