Performance still from Estate: the Ian Hinchliffe retrospective, Beaconsfield,1998, image courtesy Beaconsfield

Ian Hinchliffe

- the Memorial

Saturday 2 July 2011, 2pm – 8pm

Upper Gallery 1 & Canteen Gallery 2

On 3rd December 2010 Ian Hinchliffe, the Northern legend and sometime bad boy of the British Performance/Live Art scene, died. He died doing what he loved most: fishing.

Hinchliffe was a performance artist, installation artist and painter who could bring a sense of menace, unpredictability and a surreal/absurd humour into any creative arena that was unrivalled by any other artist of his time. In the early 70’s he founded Matchbox Purveyors; a company of musicians, performers, poets and visual artists that could encompass a solo performance by himself or a production involving up to 20 individuals. It was a vehicle for improvisation as well as a loose structure that acted as a catalyst within the performance art genre, which had materialised in the late 60′s in Britain.

Hinchliffe was not interested in configuring an aesthetic for what he created – he did it and he was it: be it impromptu performances in the street (UK, Europe and North America), on public transport systems, social clubs, art centres/laboratories, theatres, Summer Festivals, pubs, once in a consecrated church and, God help us, even the odd art gallery!

Born in Huddersfield in 1942, this sense of childish play and humour along with his love of creating bizarre costumes and props had their roots in his youth in the back streets and pubs of his hometown during the 1950’s. These influences were those of vaudeville, music hall, Northern comedy and, last but not least, traditional jazz. From these forms of entertainment he borrowed the mannerisms and gesticulations (the gurning of Frank Randle) the beautifully bizarre costumes and props and the timing of the comic gag.

In 1998 Beaconsfield drew him out of semi obscurity with ‘Estate – the Ian Hinchliffe retrospective’. This exhibition brought together a four-week live residency with performance documentation, his imaginative and beautiful designed pamphlets, leaflets, brochures, posters and personal cards – displayed as an archive for the first time. During the residency, Ian built the biggest set of his career within which to reassess his life from child to adult in a series of poignant performances over the month.

On 2nd July, at Beaconsfield, some of the many great performers, artists, musicians, organisers, publishers and friends who were touched by Ian Hinchliffe will celebrate his life/art. The event will include a fully restored screening of the film ‘The Poppy Seed Affair’ from 1979 and other interviews and rare footage never seen before. As Hinchliffe often commented, “It’s not over when the gig ends”, so who knows how the day will conclude…