Hull Regional College of Art; 1971-74
John Gray
(  )
Web Site

Got in touch with John Gray after some sleuthing on the web by me and David Osborne.
We shot a few emails in the dark at many unlikely locations - and struck paydirt!
John Gray now joins our ranks. He says:

Hi Steve and oz,
Its good to have these blasts from the past, but I am really sorry that our reunion should be joined by a blast from the present. If my computer is right you both e-mailed me on 11th sept (2002) an hour or so before the third world war was given a window, with the unauthorized appendectomy on the U.S.A.

I hope I have left enough time for you guys and your families to do what we are doing here which is to try and keep things going, and to defend the way of life that allows us to be what we want to be, and to do what we want to do, even being artists and poets and musicians, who all in our own way contribute texture and spirituality as a legal counterbalance to the egocentricity of capitalism. and fanatical dictatorship. I make art because I believe it is probably the highest and most sophisticated achievement of the monkey that is man, it creates windows that enable people to take part in something that isn't about personal gain in material terms, and can at its very best relieve for a few moments the pain that life inflicts on most of us, offering a positive view of chaos.

Ok lets sink into this wonderful world of hull in 1970's, I think what hull has been waiting for is just one person to say I want to remember the time I spent there, and would you believe it, the world sent us Stevie Goodfellow (I have already had requests from Humberside county council to offer him the post of lord mayor of hull) the reason being that most of us never wanted to go to Hull, and when we got out no one wanted to go back. So how could any of us know that some of the happiest days of our life would be spent there.
Having said all that I think the idea of a reunion of that year is slowly addicting me, particularly having seen those dreadful mugshots of people I once admired.
I have a couple of answers to your requests for information, Steve, the name of the potter with his hands covered in curry sauce is Andy Me akin, he married the beautiful daughter of Mr. Dee the millionaire supermarket king. He was quite a strange guy, nice with it, but he was offering a service of casting his male friends erections in plaster and subsequently producing finely crafted ceramic versions.
I met quite by accident, Alan Invent at an exhibition I was organizing, some years ago, and I have his phone no. As 0181 690 4494, that's a London number.
That picture of dots cafe on your web site, is obtuse, I have enclosed as an attachment an original photographic representation of the actual interior of the said premises with me in the process of ordering an exceedingly greasy sausage sandwich. Remember the old boy who always sat in the corner, he is looking at me and saying why don't you get a haircut. The guy in the left foreground is Chris Orr, I think he was the token Scotsman in the year above us. Look at that gang of ordinarily becapped Hullites on the right hand side of the picture one guy is being sick into his mug over the immigration of all those longhaired gits that have taken over his cafe. And the others are just about to mug me for the fourpence that might be left in my pocket after Dot has levied her terrible toll for that sausage sandwich. Also that girl; oz is dancing with is a wonderful first year who became one of the many women I managed to blast into immortality by staring them in my paintings. Not now but illustrations to follow.

I suppose you will want to have some kind of update on the progress of my life versus drinking habits since you left hull in 1974.
Well here is the shit. I was most surprised and still am, when I look back, about the modicum of success that was bestowed upon me in those happy years of the late 1970's.
Having fought the obnoxious and arse orientated philosophical arguments of the conceptual artists, and coming up with the absolute opposite, in the form of photo-realism, a skilled based illustrational process, the following happened.
1974 painting in john Moores Liverpool ex.
1975 one-man show at Ferns art gallery hull
1976 serpentine gallery London
1977 one man show Cartwright hall Bradford
1976 one man show Edinburgh
1976 John Moores
1977 Appointed fellow in fine art university of Nottingham (very nice this one two years on lecturers salary with studio and job is to paint your own pictures) liked that quite a lot
But the small print in the contract got me teaching two days a week at the fine art dept in Nottingham College of art. They also without my permission appointed me as an external examiner for all art degrees issued by the university. Christ that was fun.

So there you are I was famous for about forty seconds in the late seventies, but none the less now have paintings in various public collections, Ferens art gallery hull (oz remember taking this photo of me painting a photo of the painting I was doing at the time, it is in the attachment, the boiler. That's the one in the Ferens collection).
Also plenty of exhibitions in Britain and throughout Europe, but nothing very spectacular, and I still manage to remain a fairly obscure and minor talent. Since I finished the fellowship in 1979 I was a part time lecturer in painting at Trent Nottingham University, until 1988, when there was a serious cut back in part timers and eventually had to take a part time post as art tutor in a small private school in north Lincolnshire. In 1986 I established riverbank studios in Spalding, taking over a warehouse and converting it to artists studios art gallery and teaching studios, and eventually it now supplies me with a reasonable living for three days a week teaching adults and children, leaving a bit of time to get on with the painting of some large scale "modern figurative paintings", which I intend to send of on tour round Britain and the world once I can find the energy to do the marketing.

I will shortly send you some images of the paintings and update you on any results of my search through my studio rubbish for hull memorabilia; I've got some slides taken by oz of Pearson Park with me and Amanda Burton.

Anyway you guys thanks for looking me up and for reviving the memories of hull and it is good to see you are both very active in the arts.
Congratulations on your need to breed and thanks for sending the family snaps.
I have managed not to have any offspring yet and at the moment I have no real desire to do so. On family matters, Vivo and I broke up in 1977 fairly amicable divorce she got the house and I got the car. And have been with my present partner Helen Webber since 1977
She is an artist and a partner in riverbank studios; I will send pics of me in my sixtieth year to heaven (remember I was a little older than you guys) and of Helen and of my studio and will inform you when my web site is up and running.

Hope I hear from you soon, all you concepthull, artists.

John Gray.

Hull Wedding, by John Grey