I met Carel Weight in 1982. I collected his paintings and we became friends. He died in 1997 and after that I continued as one of the executors of his estate. There were four of us. Jeff Horwood and Charles Goodman have sadly died during the past year. The other remaining executor is the painter Maurice Sheppard, who was also a good friend of Carel’s. Maurice has been punctilious about preserving his memories of Carel and persuading his friends to do likewise. He tells me that I should do the same, as I am not, that being the universal fate of men, growing any younger. This is my attempt to do so.
Our starting point is that Carel is a very good painter who has not yet received his due. He has not had proper critical scrutiny, nor a full retrospective exhibition. There were two shows in the 1980s, but they predated some of his largest and scariest late pieces.
He has not only been poorly recorded but such material as has been written about him tends to caricature him. He has been easily pigeon-holed as an English eccentric narrative painter, to be bracketed with such people as Spencer and Burra, outside the mainstream, maladroit but charming. This in our view is completely to misunderstand him. The fullest biography of him, that by R. V. Weight, doesn’t, from that point of view, help.
I will not attempt any such critical scrutiny as I am not technically qualified to do so. What I will do is to offer my own recollections of the man and his work, his history, his conversation and his tactics, and I’ll try to encourage others to do the same. I’ll post pieces on my blog http://www.alablague.wordpress.com among other pieces about other things, and we’ll also try to build up a website for Carel, which will include my pieces as well as whatever others, including I hope Maurice, want to publish.
That should comprise a resource for whoever eventually does attempt the proper critical scrutiny.
This is not the place for a bibliography. That can follow in due course. However, these are the most readily available and comprehensive works on Carel Weight:
R. V. Weight: Carel Weight: A Haunted Imagination David & Charles 1994
Mervyn Levy: Carel Weight Royal Academy 1986
Angela Weight: Carel Weight: A War Retrospective Imperial War Museum1995
Cathy Courtenay: National Life Story Collection: Artists’ Lives British Library 1991
Cathy Courteney’s interview can be obtained from the British Library. The other three books are out of print but can usually be found on Abebooks. Neither R. V. nor Angela Weight, curiously, were relations.
An account of the works in the Tate’s collection can be found here . Google has a fund of images and links for commercial galleries that hold his work.