So Hugo Farmer might not be a name you’re familiar with, but you probably will be familiar with his work via a certain well-known street artist who, for legal reasons, can’t give him much credit.

Hugo is a sculptor and painter, but has been other things: carpenter, sound engineer, rave aficionado, ashram-visitor. In 2014 he made four “imperiously silent” bronzes as part of Article10 at Madam Two Saws in Hoxton. The key piece in the four, Ohm Boy, is now on display at beloved gallery and creative centre Stella Dore, on Norman Road.

Ohm Boy at Stella Dore

You’ll likely be able to make out some of Ohm Boy’s meaning just by looking at it, but a little research repays dividends (as Attila the Stockbroker might have said). The other three bronzes – the Priest, the Sargent, the Politician – mark out Ohm Boy as the (minority) voice of resistance. Where they ooze unjustified but old and powerful authority in their bronze, he comes in as a part of them, a product of them, and an incarnation precipitating their destruction.

As suggested in a video made to support the original gallery show: Ohm Boy knows their messages, their appeal and their violence, the way they – as symbols – integrate with and corrupt ordinary people, and he’ll use it all to undo them, or not. He’s the voice of resistance, a unit of resistance, an ohm. It’s just what he does, and will keep doing. He’s a bronze too, just as much cast in the form of Classical Gods with ichor in their veins. Just as permanent, or impermanent. Just splendid, just as flawed.

Hugo’s got his anarchic streak (as we should all have) but his art is also what his website bio calls “the product of ageless reverence, of a passion for the physicality of his materials and of old-fashioned craftsmanship and sheer graft.” Generally he prefers a union of the two disciplines – the potential of khaos brought into a kind of specific, useful order by hard labour.

Consider his “wood paintings”, drawn together from the savaged chips and shavings of his carpentry work, often made in moments of relative peace as other art dried and set. He said at the time of making them “…these latest paintings are a literal by-product […] something unique that’s as random as random can be; creating chaos [out of] the very ordered process of woodwork! [but still] as with pretty much all art, it’s about the process; about seeing the thing through…”

After living on a Dutch barge and art installation in his birth-city of Bristol for three years, Hugo’s now establishing himself in House of Dunce – an artist-run studio and working space in a 17th century church with stained-glass windows, where kindred spirits such as Sickboy and Grey Jam will also reside. His recent artworks focus on the imagery of the Acid House days: wood, overlaid with screen-printed, layered and lacquered mesh effects. You might see those bright smiley faces, you might feel a bit of Tron, you might even divine some sacred geometry in there. Have a look at the style on his website showcase.

“Smiley Culture No.1” of Farmer’s recent painting series

Ohm Boy shouts out of the front window at Stella Dore gallery, which provides an excellent meeting place for unconventional and sometimes anonymous creatives. The gallery will be intimately familiar with, and likely have helped organise, any street art project you see around town, and has been substantially responsible for the development of a meaningful street art scene in Hastings. Think of: the works on Gotham Alley co-organised with MSL; the Dotmasters painting of Ruby’s Rooms and outside Oscars; Pablo Allison’s words of hope on the departing Brighton Campus by Hastings station; and Rugman’s mural an alleyway down from Stella Dore itself. The gallery is building a standard and legitimacy for open and skillful expression that we should be proud of as a town, and if you want to join in with that: just pop by for a visit. 64 Norman Road. TN38 0EJ.


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