Artists paints picture of Yarmouth decline

Kevin Griffiths at the Merchant House Gallery

Kevin Griffiths at the Merchant House Gallery - Credit: Archant

Artist Kevin Griffiths has opened a “savage comment on society” in a his first ever exhibition, born from his view of the decline of Great Yarmouth.

A former student of the Great Yarmouth College of Art and Design in the 1960s, Kevin was forced to drop out of academia due to ill health, but was not deterred from pursuing his talents.

He returned to painting 25 years ago, but has never shared his work - until now.

His first exhibition has now opened at the Merchant House Gallery in Lowestoft, inspired by the changing fortunes of Yarmouth over the last five decades.

Mr Griffiths’ former lecturer at the College of Art and Design, Emrys Parry, said he was “one of a group of exceptionally talented students.

“He had to leave due to domestic circumstances and never followed the academic path to a qualification,” he added.

“Illness had stopped him working but he had been painting secretly for a number of years driven by his desire to produce at and to comment on what he observed as the decline of Yarmouth.

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“His work is a savage comment on society as he sees it. He is self taught, extremely well-read and holds trenchant views on the way the town has changed. “He has produced a remarkable body of work and I have nothing but admiration for his determination and tenacity. “His story is one of dogged determination to create art against all the odds.

“The work is raw and will generate strong feelings but cannot be ignored. He challenges and asks uncomfortable questions.”

Speaking of the work on show in Yarmouth, Kevin said: “If my work possesses any theme, it is decline. “My childhood and youth were spent in a town at its aesthetic and economic peak, my adulthood - in a town which, at its best, is trying to renew itself.

“As a child I remember Yarmouth in the 1950s and 1960s and how it is changed over the years. I think Yarmouth became like lots of seaside towns in the 1980s, and that was a bad time for the tourism industry in general.”

It is not all doom and gloom with 66-year-old Kevin, as he sees a positive future for the town. “In a way we are the victims of history, and that was inevitable in a way,” he said. “Having said that I do think there is a chance to renew. That might come from small businesses, because there are lots of little industries starting up. “This is the first exhibition I have ever done, and I started painting again about 25 years ago. I never really felt a need to publicise it before, but now I have enough to put them on show.”

The exhibition runs until January 30 at the Merchant House Gallery, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm.