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Ben Westley Clarke

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Painter, Illustrator, Tattooist, Teacher

Madrid/London

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My work primarily concerns drawing and painting. Between 2014 and 2018 I made a series of paintings which documented the Cock Tavern, a working class Irish pub in Somers Town which was under threat of closure and redevelopment. I made this series as a direct response to witnessing ongoing gentrification in London. Much of my painting, which is bound up with observation within urban environments, is related to a Bruegelian or Rabelaisian ideal of the carnivalesque. I am interested in Bourdieu, Ranciere and the idea of a hierarchy of taste - my own work has ranged from tattooing on a client basis to illustrating 'high culture' poems and copying the drawings of Goya in the Prado museum archive. I am interested in the idea of articulating and building class consciousness amongst Artists working within a hostile Art World, and within the content and function of Art itself. As an educator, I am currently researching critical pedagogy and the work of Paulo Friere. I studied at Byam Shaw School of Art, The Slade School of Art and the Royal Drawing School. I was involved in organising the occupation of the Slade School of Art and UCL in 2010. I apprenticed as a tattooist with Steve Herring at I Hate Tattoos. I have worked as an educator at the Royal Academy of Arts and the National Gallery, amongst other places.