In 1973 Bill Drummond was coming to the end of his first academic year at Liverpool School of Art. He was studying painting. He loved painting. He wanted to spend the rest of his life painting. But something was troubling him. He thought even if he became a successful painter, even a great painter, all it would mean that his paintings would hang on the walls of a rich man apartment in New York.
The young and idealistic Drummond instinctively felt that this is not what art should be about. He put down his paint brush, walked away from the easel and out into the streets of Liverpool, in the hope that he could discover a way of making art that… The rest of his professional life to date has been about trying to work out what the “that” might be.
Some months before he laid down his paintbrush, he had visited the first Andy Warhol retrospective in the UK. It was at The Tate (Britain). The exhibition had blown him away. But over the next twelve months what had initially done the blowing, began to trouble him. The troubling progressed to the point that he thought what Andy Warhol represented was everything that was wrong with Art in the world at that time.
All the first year fine art students were expected to write a 4,000 word history of art essay on a topic of their choice. This essay was to be handed in by the end of the first academic year. Although he had a title for the essay he was unable to put any more than a few unconnected words on the page.
Most of the several hundred thousand words that Drummond has written and published since the summer of ’73 have been a continuation of this uncompleted essay. What he hopes to present in Dumfries will be 45 minute performance lecture based on where he is at with the essay at the moment. The working title is, as it was then, the now rather naïve: “Why Andy Warhol is Shite.”
You can be part of the audience for Bill’s lecture ‘Why Andy Warhol is Shite’ by coming to Greyfriars Church at 6pm on Thursday 8th November (free).