Richard Davis Exhibition at The Dukes

An exhibition of striking portraits from photographer Richard Davis will be showing at The Dukes from 4 January to 2 February 2010.

Lancaster 2009 is an intimate look at the local arts scene and includes images of musicians, comedians, poets, dancers, writers, storytellers, artists and DJs.

Richard has photographed over 100 people in the course of 2009 and plans to stop on New Year’s Eve. The inspiration behind the exhibition came from an earlier project in 1990 called Entertainment UK. Entertainment UK opened in Manchester and featured people living in the city at the time. Many were unknown artists but have since gone on to become household names including Steve Coogan, Dave Gorman, Caroline Aherne, Happy Mondays and Vic and Bob.

Richard said:

“I’ve seen that Lancaster has the capacity to contribute towards a healthy North West arts scene, even though it isn’t on the scale of Liverpool and Manchester. This collection illustrates the breadth of creativity in Lancaster and the surrounding area. And who knows? Maybe some of the people featured will go on to become household names!”

The Dukes Gallery is open from 10am to 11pm, Monday to Saturday. Please call box office on 01524 598500 to check opening times if you’re making a special journey as occasionally the space is closed to the public.


27 Responses

  1. Some great pictures, I look forward to the opening night!

  2. I heard there was going to be an opening night for this exhibition featuring a performance of household name intimate-song-cycle Dan Haywood’s New Hawks!?

    Perhaps I’m mistaken?

  3. am i right in thinking this exhibition carrys on and is then moving to Mona House Gallery in Morecambe late feb

  4. Hi Tex,
    The Opening Night is on Monday 11th January in The Dukes Gallery, start time 7.00p.m. FREE – All Welcome – ( Open Age so kids can come )
    Yeah, i’m pleased to announce that Dan Haywood’s New Hawks will do a set, probably start about 7.15p.m. Music has to finish before the Films start in the Cinema.
    Hi Joe,
    Yeah “Lancaster 2009” then moves to Mona House in Morecambe from 12th Feb till 27th Feb.
    Jess Thomas will provide the music at the Opening Night for Mona House – will get back to you with the date of that ( Can’t remember it of the top of my head – when is it Joe??
    Look forward to seeing you all on the 11th Jan
    Have a good new year everyone
    Richard Davisx

  5. This is Lancasters ‘to watch’ list then? This should be interesting on many levels, especially the reaction of the people not invited or photographed by Davis. They may feel aggrieved or insulted at not being ‘chosen’. They well be ignored because they’re dull and uninteresting. They may have been ignored because they are not part of the right clique. Whatever the reason, to hold up one sector of the scene like this and declare it as somehow superior, is just devisive and likely to cause disharmony. Watch out Lancaster, I feel its going to turn on itself.

  6. Hopefully the only thing Lancaster will turn on is you Leonard, for trying to sow disharmony where there is none.
    A cursory glance at Richard Davis’ website reveals the enormous numbers of people he has photographed in Lancaster. These include writers, actors, musicians, artists, dancers, producers, and more. It would be impossible to cover everyone, but it certainly looks like Mr Davis has made a serious attempt at it.
    As for the exhibit itself, of course some will miss out, space is as ever limited, but perhaps the final selection will be made for a variety of reasons: the artistic merit of the actual photographs, an attempt at balance in photographic results, an attempt to touch as many bases as possible, or perhaps, and of equal validity, the whim of the artist. What it does not, from the comment above, is make any claims that any of those photographed are superior to any not displayed. That is all in your tiny little mind Leonard, a sign of your own feelins of inferiority.

  7. Sounds great. I’m planning to be there for the first hour or so and then whizz off to Monkeyrack to do some more writerly writing stuff.

    Just to back up Helen Bland’s fine post above, there are loads of people in the set I’ve never met (but would like to) so this is way off the definition of cliquey.

  8. talk about spitting out dummies

  9. “That is all in your tiny little mind Leonard, a sign of your own feelins of inferiority.”

    How so?

    I don’t necessarily agree with Leonard, but I really don’t understand why people think it’s necessary to get so personal and bitchy when someone has an idea that’s basically not “Richard Davies is awesomes!”

    I personally think that the way RD operates is essentially damaging to what is going on in Lancaster, and would be damaging to art in general if more people acted that way. As it is, it doesn’t really make much difference, but I don’t understand why so many in this town are so keen on back-patting whenever anyone takes a photo, makes a CD or has a shit. Well, I do. It’s how to get noticed.

    The way things are in the musical community of Lancaster, it’s basically impossible to reach an arty audience unless you pretend to fucking adore certain people who have not actually really done anything to deserve it. In 2009, I’ve become aware of several excellent acts that won’t be found on the wall of the Dukes this January or wouldn’t feature at a Totally Wired gig (or similar) because they’re not sycophantic enough.

    Of course, there are pictures of some wonderful people in this collection, and I don’t think it’s any reflection on any of the subjects that they are in there.

    The town doesn’t need a king.

  10. @David: you’re quite right the town doesn’t need a king, but nor does it need a clown prince.

    If you care to read my comments again I hope my point will be clear. Leonard asserted that RD’s exhibition was being set up as superior to the rest of Lancaster, and I responded by pointing out that there was no evidence in the advertising to suggest that. Can you see any elitism in the main post here? This is not blind worship of Davis (he hasn’t taken my photo ) just an objection to what looked to me to be blind anti-Davis prejudice from Leonard.
    You say you consider Davis methods damaging, can you explain why? I understand that Leonard has the impression that only a handful of Davis’ friends have been pictured but that seems to me to be a misconception, as Norman also suggests. Like you I have discovered many new artists in the area, including your band by the way, since I moved here in 2008. Anything that highlights any of these is surely positive? Even with the caveat that such an exhibition can only ever highlight a portion that is still better than none, is it not? Or is that your issue, that it is partial, and unless it was total representation of the various scenes then it shouldn’t happen?

  11. You guys are insane. I feel sorry for Leonard. Everytime he comes on here its instant bitch attack, character assasination. Its not a very nice representation of ‘us’ as a collection of people. The comments on the Body Collective post against Leonards views are pretty horrendous. The Lunecy and Totally Wired are in danger of looking like colluding bullies to me, (and I write and help out with both bodies).
    Dave really has a point. I’d say he’s playing the classic jester, daring to point out the flaws to the enthroned.
    Just saying like.

    • I’d like to apologise for highlighting Totally Wired above. It was my dismay at the comments by some of the people who were at the time involved with the Body Collective and Totally Wired that irked me a little, not the organisers as such. TW is Richard n Jill and neither of them said owt to offend.
      I do this, one day someone will sue me.

  12. i know what i mean

  13. Just to reiterate that all opinions stated on the lunecy review are those of individual contributors and do not necessarily represent editorial viewpoints.

  14. Kinda agree with Wes and David here, there is a little ‘bullying’ and oversensitive knee-jerk reactions going on here. Leonard is entitled to his opinions, it is at the end of the day an open forum for debate. Problem is as soon as someone has a view that doesn’t conform with 99% of the ‘artistic community’ then their instantly attacked and villified. Makes the Lancaster scene a little cliquey and unable to deal with criticism of any kind.

    Chill and put on a Cat Stevens record.

  15. Groovy… discussion! That’s progress. Thanks Helen. 🙂

    I would like to first make really clear that this isn’t a personal matter. Richard seems a perfectly decent chap. Also, I haven’t really got a personal interest in this… I’m a piano teacher for a living, which is really all I care about in Lancaster, and I play with a band that doesn’t have any interest in celebrity (though we do like it when people listen to and buy our records, which can be done here! ).

    Anyway, my position, in a nutshell (which was written in greater detail here: is that I think local music activity should be open and free, fun and lighthearted. We should encourage development and a sense that everyone *can* do stuff, not single people out time and time again and “showcase” their work or predict their future stardom/success. It is a pure disservice, in my view, to local music and real people that someone has taken it upon themselves to bring the idea of celebrity, showcasing and public relations to the wonderful game of “music as local fun activity”.

    I don’t think it’s a handful of Davis’s friends. I think it’s a collection of people who are either well known enough to bring attention to the collection (Dan H, Richard Turner, Kriss Foster) or people who will be so flattered by the whole thing that they talk positively about the project. It’s a self-supporting PR masterstroke.

    My issue isn’t that it’s partial. It’s that the selection appears to me to be motivated by its own success. If all the people in it talk positively about it, it’ll be seen as a success, because they’re the movers and shakers in Lancaster’s incredibly cliquey “scene”. I don’t mean to say they’re not excellent people, because I know some of them and they really, really are all about the art and their work.

    I think Richard Davis is an excellent self-promoter, and I think this collection is all about that desired outcome, which I suppose makes it good work in a way, but it’s good like Saatchi and Saatchi rather than David Bailey.

  16. Thanks David,even though I’d prefer Saatchi to Bailey in an exhibition context, I do see where you’re coming from.
    If I have read you right you think Davis approach perpetuates a perceived elite whether intended or not. I’m not sure I agree, but its an interesting point.
    As for predicting success, that sounds close to Leonard’s original complaint and is misguided equally. What Davis says is that ‘some’ of his subjects ‘might’ become better known. Not will, but might. He makes no claims that those not included stand any less chance. Of course it’s self-promotion, and why not. If there proves to be no substance behind the hype then people will see that. I reserve my judgment until I get to see the exhibition myself, maybe tomorrow night.

  17. You seem to have understood what I’m saying entirely. Let’s see how it pans out.

    I don’t think it’s healthy to associate art with stardom *at all*, especially at a local level. Taking pictures of people to elevate their and one’s own status seems to be an exercise in egotism, and relies on the basic principle that making some people more famous than others is a good thing.

    There’s some doublespeak going on, really. We can talk all day about how these people are immensely talented and we have a duty to make sure people know about them, etc… but the other side of the coin is that you can’t elevate someone’s status without depressing the status of others, and essentially those who shout loudest will generally be seen by the casual onlooker as the most worthwhile.

    I have fun and pay the mortgage by making music and helping others to do it too. A major obstacle in getting a person to enjoy playing the piano is the constant comparisons they make between themselves and . We are constantly exposed to national and international celebrity, and this is harmful enough. What I really don’t like the idea of is the needless raising of the profile and status of local artists who are playing freebie gigs and open mics and self funding their recordings and physical media. Some of them are awesome at what they do, of course, but it doesn’t alter the fact that some young songwriter might look at this collection and perceive that you have to be a bit *special* to receive Lancaster’s highest accolade… to appear in the Hallowed Hall of Fame that is Richard Davies’ deliberately skewed picture of the zeitgeist.

  18. “I have fun and pay the mortgage by making music and helping others to do it too. A major obstacle in getting a person to enjoy playing the piano is the constant comparisons they make between themselves and [insert famous piano player here].”

    … is how that should have read, but I used angle brackets instead and wordpress devoured them!

  19. Doesn’t Heather Mills have that as a tattoo?

  20. Some interesting points on both sides of the coin.

    I think that RD is basically someone who gets excited by things and people and takes pictures of them. Having ‘worked’ with him, I can attest to his enthusiasm and dedication to his particular vision.

    He’s definately a good self-publicist, and I guess that means people will see his photos.

    I concede that those who haven’t been included may feel excluded, but I’m sure he’ll carry on taking more pictures of more people as and when he meets them (he’s not been in town for that long and has met a bewildering amount of people in that short space of time).

    Also, as ever, if people are unhappy with the art about them, they can make their own.

    I think every town and city has it’s cliques, not just Lancaster, and they’re usually self-defeating in the long-run.

    So, I would say, see the exhibition, enjoy what’s there and if you’re not in it and feel you should be, approach the approachable RD to be in the next one or make your own.


  21. If you just see it as a photographic exhibition rather than an objective chronicle bestowing status on people, few of these arguments would arise. I don’t thinkl Richard set out to make a pictorial directory of everyone involved in the art scene in Lancaster – I think he tried to take interestingly composed shots of the people who happened to be at the places where he was at the time. If any of us did the same it would similarly reflect our own paths through the artistic scene.. But people seem to be viewing it as a measurement of status. If you think you’ve failed because you haven’t got your picture in a largely random collection of photographs that cannot possibly be translated into some sort of judgement on your status with the local art scene.

    The bastard had better include me next time though.

    • With all due respect to the effort that’s gone into this exhibition, I found it hard – with all the stylisation/oversaturated images – to get to any subtlety of character/personality that I’d imagined coming across with such a diverse group of people.

      I agree with Looby’s comment above. The exhibition makes an excellent display the photographer’s own ways of seeing, his interests and encounters within the arts communities than it does its members.

      But maybe illustrating the ‘breadth of creativity’ within the region requires more than one perspective – perhaps if the photographer had collected a series of works, or invited contributions?

  22. After the open night I revise my opinion. Its was nice to mingle anonymously, it allowed me to gauge local opinion too. I thought ‘it’s not even Art, its just pictures of his mates and girls he wants to shag’ being probably the most salient remark. Well done.
    Dan Hawk was certainly interesting.

  23. I agree with everything. I think Davis will probably be happy people have an opinion.It’ll serve as an interesting social archive for one, if nothing else, and nothing else is what most other exhibitions end up being.
    So if RD looms towards you with his standard lamp and an air of intent, beware, you’re next brother (sister)

  24. Hi all,

    I don’t live in Lancaster, I stumbled across this exhibition whilst visiting a friend so I’m afraid that I’ve never heard of Mr Davis before – haven’t a clue who he is! From the sounds of it he’s either a creative genius or an egotistical little man desperate to feel an important part of a clique he admires. Either way, I couldn’t care less.

    I thought that the photos were nice enough. They lacked real warmth or character within them (maybe in part to the heavy use of photoshop), but they didn’t offend me. They just ‘were’ as it were. In fact, if it wasn’t for the discovery of this site I probably would have forgotten them already.

    I suspect that Mr Davis is secretly delighted with all the opinions he’s generated on this site (and presumably beyond). He’s clearly put effort into his work and probably knows that you have to take the rough with the smooth – artists shouldn’t be in the game if they can’t take criticism. There are people here that like his work, and people that don’t which is how it should be.

    I think it’s brilliant that Lancaster has a site like this to cover local events that would otherwise go unreported. Whoever is responsible for it – well done! It is called ‘The Lunecy Review’ though, and not ‘The Lunecy of Lancaster telling itself how great it is all the time’. Debate is good!

    John (feeling rather bemused by this entire thread)

  25. John,

    Couldn’t agree more with you. Nothing worse than sycophantic scenesters. This site was created by Kev Mcveigh with the aim of encouraging debate, which it seems to be doing quite sucessfully.

    Glad you like the site,


    Reza 🙂

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