John Redhead: Remains of Occitania. Friday 29th October 2010

Digital Camera

A Cathar Forensic in words, images and sounds

Friday 29 October 2010, 6.00pm – 8pm
Exhibition runs until Saturday 13 November
Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday 11 am – 5 pm

Zarathushtra sent a Gnostic-dual-carriageway west to greet the sun in Aragon, transporting the written word from ‘The Big One’. The vortex sent, the Stargate established, the Marys  built their station. Tantric! With diamond hearts they spiralled jade-fire into the Cosmos. Heresy! But in 1244 the big boy Catholics interceded with their own story and genocide buried the book of love. Was the Cathars only crime that of hope and peace and transcendence? The Tresar Cathar went down and the Pope and feudal France “Killed them all”. Death to civility and tolerance. French was imposed on Rousillon in 1700.

“If you know yourself you know God”

This multimedia intervention searches for fragments as much of the future as the past – of rituals, riddle and chaos across the landscape of the Albigensian Crusade, from Montsegur, Languedoc to Rosslyn, Scotland. My intent is a loose-fun-wandering and broad, objective glance. As words become bald and the images played out, they take cover as the sounds take over, as Cosmic Karaoke! Sleep dances with me through the slaughter and images and stellar soundscapes appear and voices seep from the rocks of Bugaresh. Biblical texts implode into shattered ribs and the ‘Devil’ seeks a shoulder. Is there a whispering underground…? The landscape reveals a supernatural audio visual library – flashes of total ecstasy and ‘multiverse’ belonging and a gaping hole of hellfire, where even the grass seems to think shame. Thought! Joy! Where is the truth in this labour of beliefs and symbolism and pain – in this trance of light, starships and cruelty – this theatre of Heaven!

John Redhead, Formigueres, March 2009

Video footage of Montsegur and Rosslyn Chapel


From the age of fourteen, John, born in Yorkshire from Jewish Gypsy origin exhibited and sold his paintings. From self taught artist he became professional and exhibited prolifically through London and the provincial galleries.

In the mountains of North Wales he was an activist and pioneer on rock and his routes are a legacy in British climbing. He led the first ascents of Britain’s first grade E7, The Bells, The Bells, and the first grade of E8, Margins of the Mind. A BBC documentary ‘E9 6c’ and Anglia TV documentary, ‘Clown Ascending’ offer insight into his approach.

His multimedia exhibitions, ‘Shaft of the Dead Man’ and ‘Music of Decline’ attempted to portray the sacrificial aspect to movement on rock.

Whilst sponsored by the Arts Council to study Anazazi rock art and sacred sites in Arizona and New Mexico, he became more aware of the rituals and ceremonial aspect behind image making. His separation from the gallery environment had begun.

Whilst in his Liverpool warehouse studio he completed a series of site specific paintings that were exhibited in a ceremonial circle outdoors under the title, ‘Serious Clowning’. This interactive and controversial performance with an unsuspecting audience confronted a consumer complacent society with the issues of the day.

His ascent of Norwich and Liverpool cathedrals as part of an arts performance with his huge canvasses were documented and filmed.

John’s first limited edition book, ‘…and one for the crow’ of words and images of ascent, achieved cult status and was the first ‘outdoors’ book to be banned in many shops. His sonic exploration of Liverpool streets and heroin addiction, ‘Hero Gone bent’ follows from his extensive research and recorded transcripts of street prostitution.

His second publication was a multimedia investigation into the energy left at Dinorwic Quarry, North Wales. His sound sculpture, Soft Explosive Hard Embrace, is a claim for the sacred land and accompanied the words and images. His film of the same name has featured at mountain film festivals worldwide.

For ten years John has developed his sonic compositions and performance, ‘Talking House Soundscapes’ and ‘Orchestration of the Senses’ and continues to paint huge canvasses from his studio in the mountains of the Pyrenees Orientales, where he now works. He will be performing his new project, ‘Dead Room Chiseller’, tracks of sonic mourning at various venues in Calalunya Nord.

His current work ‘Remains of Occitania’ follows his forensic approach to human occupation of space and returns John to a gallery exhibition.

His third book, ‘Colonist’s Out’, a search for the meaning of home, is due for publication shortly.

Click here to see the artist’s webpage


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