Dale Grimshaw looks back at his upbringing in new exhibition

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The street artist and oil painter talks to The Independent Online about his violent father, man-eating animals and why woodcuts are better than stencils

I was brought up in Lancashire by my mum. My dad was very violent. He was an alcoholic. We had to flee the family home because he was so violent. He almost kicked my mother to death when she was carrying me. My work references that kind of physical and psychological bullying, that inner frustration. It gives a psychological narrative as opposed to an obvious one.

My new show is called Semi-Detached. It’s pretty obvious but the title is a play on psycho analysis terminology and also a reference to semi detached houses. It’s based on my upbringing and childhood. The strongest work I do tends to be quite personal. Being a figurative painter I use my own image a lot. Not because I’m a supermodel, but because a lot of portrait painters do that. I’m here in my studio so it’s easy to document myself.

A lot of painters use anthropomorphism to humanise animals. Instead I’ve used animals that have been known to eat human beings. Carnivores. Most animals wouldn’t eat people given the choice. But there is a human fascination with bears, lions and sharks. I don’t eat animals myself – my vegetarianism stems from dad’s cruelty to animals. But I’ve put animal heads in my paintings, not to demonise animals, but because they are animals which would be interested in eviscerating people given the chance.

Click here or on the image for a picture preview

One of the paintings is of a big shark man. It’s a huge painting with floral wallpaper background. He’s clutching his head in frustration and he’s actually got a dog’s mouth. I always dread showing people pictures like this one, fearful that they’ll squeal, you know. Some of my work might be a bit theatrical, but it’s not intended to frighten peoples’ children.

There’s one image of a wolf drinking on the settee (above). It’s a reference to my father “winding down” after a drink. The wallpaper behind him is made up of deer, which is one of wolves’ main food sources. So it combines the domestic and the animalistic in the same setting. Ironically we could afford wallpaper when I was a kid. We had magnolia wood chip.

I don’t see my father any more. I saw him when my mum died in about 1990 but I haven’t really seen him since and prior to that I hadn’t seen him for ten years. I don’t know if he’s aware of what I do. I’m in touch with my grandma and from what I hear he’s still misbehaving. I don’t think he’ll ever really change.

I work outside on the street as well as in the studio. I produce woodcuts and paste them onto walls. I was known a few years ago for being more of an oil on canvas kind of artist so I keep the two things quite separate. The Japanese were doing woodcutting hundreds of years ago, but in London there are very few, if any, doing street art with woodcut prints. Everyone’s kind of obsessed with Banksy and every 17-year-old wants to do stencils. But I didn’t want to go down that route and I like the physical aspect of cutting into the wood. I’m going to try and get a woodcut piece in the show so fingers crossed I’ll have time.

Watch a video of Grimshaw at work, above

Semi Detached by Dale Grimshaw is at the Signal Gallery, London from 7-29 October, www.signalgallery.com

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
Arts and Entertainment

Grace Dent on TV

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us