Billy Childish exhibition opens at Carl Freedman Gallery in Margate

Billy Childish exhibition Photos Britney Spanish

By Phien O’Phien

The Billy Childish Show galloped into town on July 1 at the Carl Freedman Gallery in Margate.

The opening night of the show was well attended by friends, buyers and fans, with 16 displays of art on show.

Billy, looking like a cross between Wild Bill Hickok and a retro film cowboy, was in attendance. A very approachable and engaging person, he spoke and had his picture taken with many of those attending the opening night.

Photo Britney Spanish

Some of his exhibition paintings depicted the cliffs between Broadstairs and Kingsgate Bay and stirred great interest among local art collectors and overseas buyers.

His right between the eyes, punky, devil may care style of art in this show conjures up the freedom one might experience when relaxing on a sunny beach, the feeling of calm whilst observing the tree line in the heart of the countryside, or when in the company of loved family members. A sense of peace prevails in this set of paintings, where everything is strong, solid, and reliable.

Photo Britney Spanish

The internationally famous Billy is a Kent-born painter, author, poet, photographer, filmmaker, guitarist, and musician. Since the late 1970s, he has been prolific in creating visual art, writing, and creating and performing live music. He attended Medway College of Design in Chatham and the Saint Martins School of Art in London, and is a contemporary and friend of artist Tracy Emin and art gallery curator Carl Freedman.

Antonio, from London, attended the showing as a proxy for her mother, who was too ill to make the trip and who, she said: “had started to paint inspired by Billy’s work.” Billy had his picture taken with Antonia and asked her to pass on his good wishes to her mother.

Photo Britney Spanish

Alyssa and Peter, collectors of Billy’s work, said this latest show was “very impressive,” and they were interested in acquiring one piece in particular to add to their collection.

There was a fundraising dinner after the show in aid of “The Perfect Place to Grow.” A Community Interest Company (CIC)

Among the attendees of the fundraiser was an impressive trio of  guests, Billy and Tracy Emin and curator and gallery owner Carl Freedman.

Perfect Place to Grow team: Anistasia, Lee and Harry Photo Parri Thomas (via Margate Mercury)

The Perfect Place To Grow is a CIC looking to teach, train, and help young people in Thanet find jobs in the hospitality industry. Lee Coad, a director of the company, said: “We were very grateful for all who attended the fundraiser and for the continuing support of our patron, Tracy Emin, and her friends Billy Childish and Carl Freedman.”

The show at the Carl Freedman Gallery runs from July 2 to September 3, noon-5pm, Wednesday-Sunday. Free entry.

The last word from the man himself: “I love the new buzz around Thanet; it’s so compelling.”

Phien is an artist and father-of-four who uses the arts as a platform to campaign against discrimination, including that of race, sexuality or disability

Training cafe and kitchen on TKE Studio site in Margate to give Thanet’s young people route to employment


  1. I like his work. It’s kind of tame though, which doesn’t seem to fit his persona. I wouldn’t describe it as ‘right between the eyes, punky, devil may care style of art’ but I’ll go and have a look … maybe there’s something about these paintings the photos don’t capture.

    • What the paintings’capture’ is subjective and open to individual perception as with all art.

      There are 16 pieces in the show, ot would seem, not the few highlighted in the article.

      Perhaps wait until viewing the full set of work before judging?

      • Was musing about possible limitations of what the photos can capture. And yeah, I did go to the exhibition and enjoyed it.

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