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Billy Childish (born Steven John Hamper, 1 December 1959) is an English artist, painter, author, poet, photographer, film maker, singer and guitarist. He is known for his explicit and prolific work — he has detailed his love life and childhood sexual abuse, notably in his early poetry and the novels My Fault (1996), Notebooks of a Naked Youth (1997), Sex Crimes of the Futcher (2004) — The Idiocy of Idears (2007), and in several of his songs, notably in the instrumental Peodaphile, Clawfist Records (1992).
He is a consistent advocate for amateurism and free emotional expression and was a co-founder of the Stuckism art movement with Charles Thomson in 1999, which he left in 2001. Since then a new evaluation of Childish's standing in the art world has been under way, culminating with the publication of a critical study of Childish's working practice by the artist and writer Neal Brown, with an introduction by Peter Doig, which describes Childish as "one of the most outstanding, and often misunderstood, figures on the British art scene".
Billy Childish was born, lives and works in Chatham (Kent, England). Although he had an early and extremely close association with many of the artists who became known as "YBA" artists he has resolutely asserted his independent status. As a prospective student lacking the necessary entry qualifications, Childish was accepted into art school four times on the strength of his paintings and drawings. Childish studied foundation at Medway College Design in 1977-78. And was then accepted onto the painting department of St Martins School of Art in 1978, before quitting a month later. He was reaccepted at St Martins in 1980, but was expelled in 1982 for refusing to paint in the art school and other unruly behaviour. At St Martins Childish became friends with Peter Doig with whom he shared an appreciation of Munch, Van Gogh and blues music. Doig later co-curated Childish's first London show at the Cubit Street Gallery. In the early/mid 1980s Childish was a "major influence" on the artist Tracey Emin, who he met after his expulsion from St Martins when she was a fashion student at Medway College of Design. Childish has been cited as the influence for Emin's later confessional art. Childish paints in a personal style, which parallels his passion for the elemental in both writing and music. He has exhibited extensively since the 1980s and was featured in the British Art Show in 2000. Since 2002 Childish has been represented by the L-13 Gallery in London, along with Jamie Reid and James Cauty (with whom sometimes collaborates). In 1996 Childish painted "The Drinker", influenced by Hans Fallada's novel of the same title. Childish has cited Fallada as a major influence on his own prose work, notably in the novel "Sex Crimes of the Futcher”. In 2008 Childish commenced a series of paintings based on the life and death of the Swiss author Robert Walser, whom Childish has also cited as an influence on his prose work.
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