For this project, artist Jeffrey Dennis selected an inconspicuous wall in Luton town centre as the location for a summer-long painting called The Luton Host, which commenced on Thursday 29 June 2017.
By activating this currently overlooked space with successive layers of paint, pattern, colour and miscellaneous imagery, Dennis hoped the wall – opposite Luton’s Hat Factory on Bute Street – would become a natural backdrop for shopping and commuting, as well as a site that would allow a pause for conversation, spontaneous performance and sheer showing-off by Luton’s residents.
Dennis commenced the work, much as his paintings begin, in his studio. He started off with a pattern derived from designs by William Morris, the Victorian artist, designer, poet and dreamer, who believed that creative activity was everyone’s birth-right. This foundation, as in Dennis’ own previous paintings, acted as a noticeboard for additional painted imagery, from the close-up and personal to the public and celebratory.
You may have seen the artist on Bute Street at regular intervals throughout the summer, during which time he invited the people of Luton to bring along their own visual contributions for possible inclusion in the painting, which, he hoped, would be cumulative, collaborative and unpredictable. On Wednesday 23 August Dennis held a workshop for adults, inviting people to contribute to The Luton Host, which resulted in some spontaneous results. Dennis will continue to work on The Luton Host until the end of September.
About Jeffrey Dennis
Jeffrey Dennis has been exhibiting regularly since 1979. During the 1980s, he had regular exhibitions at Salvatore Ala in Milan and New York, as well as a solo show in London at Whitechapel Gallery in 1986. He was featured in the ‘British Art Show 3’ in 1990 and since then has appeared three times in the John Moores Painting Prize in Liverpool, was selected for EASTinternational 2007 at Norwich, and the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2010 and 2012.
‘Ringbinder’, Dennis’ most comprehensive solo exhibition since the 1980s, took place at NGCA in Sunderland in 2015, while his monograph by the same title was published by NGCA and Slimvolume in 2017. His paintings are held in the collections of Arts Council England; the British Council; the British Standards Institution; the Department for Business Innovation and Skills; Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; Leeds Art Gallery; Stedelijk, Amsterdam; Swindon Museum and Art Gallery; Tate; Unilever plc, and private collections worldwide. He currently teaches at Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London.