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Ian Dury: "More Than Fair" Art Exhibition

Sammy Stein By

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This is a glimpse of Dury before "Clevor Trevor," "Byline Brown," "Plaistow Patricia," or even a "Rhythm Stick" had been thought of. Dury's images are not everyone's cup of tea, but they are strong, simply displayed and show an opening into a world of make-believe into which Dury dipped many times during his life. In some, the subjects are parodies of reality, realistic portraits presented in a sea of fantasy plants or a fairytale setting of sequins and boas. Reality and fantasies mingle and blend. Dury never lost this art of creating characters, piecing together many used in his songs from bits and threads of people he knew, met or admired, mixing reality with the unreal and fantastical.

There is something about a few of the images which discomfits and it is difficult at first to pinpoint why this is, but it is perhaps the fact that many of them are images of private things—a girlfriend in the nude, the woman looking provocatively at the painter so the viewer becomes something of a voyeur, glimpsing a private scene between Dury and the girl. You sense that when they were created, maybe some of the images were never meant for public display.

A line from a Dury song, quoted after the opening of the exhibition by musician, actor and lifetime Dury follower John Kelly, says "very good indeed." I could not agree more.

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