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Project Ability, Glasgow

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until September 23, 2017

Leslie Thompson, a learning disabled artist based at Venture Arts studios in Manchester, presents his first national solo exhibition in "The Superstar Artist Drawer". A retrospective of over 22 years of drawings and artwork, featuring work never seen before, alongside several new artworks, at Project Ability, Glasgow.

New artwork displayed includes a stitched piece called "70s Afro Lady" – which was begun when Thompson first visited Project Ability in 2015, to take part in "It Is Now", a group exhibition showing artwork by learning disabled artists from ten different support studios from across the world. This work has been built up in layers of fabric and wool using an embellisher machine at Project Ability. Over the last two years Thompson has worked into this piece meticulously layering hand stitch in black cotton building up the "Afro". This piece is displayed alongside mixed media drawings depicting live scenarios such as "The Chorlton workplace Party" and memories like "St Bede’s Closewatching TV with Mum and Geoffrey" and "The ASDA store".

Other artworks displayed depict famous characters and scenes from popular culture from between the 1970s to 1990s – with everything from The Jungle Book and King Kong films to wrestling. Narratives from comics and films are often interwoven, in Thompson’s characteristic intricate drawing style, with his own memories of childhood and family, adding extra dimensions to the scene as they pan out to show the memory within a memory seen in "Me watching Peter Pan on the proper video."

Words, sometimes indecipherable, form part of the mark-making in many of the drawings, revealing more specific description of time, location and other significant contextual details.

"The Superstar Artist Drawer" follows major success for Thompson at the Manchester Contemporary in 2016, at which he sold all of his art work on the opening day of the three day event. 

Amanda Sutton Director of Venture Arts says: “Leslie has been working with Venture Arts for over 20 years, alongside many other talented artists. This is the first time one of our artists has had a solo exhibition show, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. This is part of our ongoing commitment to bring the art work of learning disabled artists to new and wider audiences, and establish a key role within the world of contemporary art.”