BILLY CHILDISH Frozen Estuary and Other Paintings of the Divine Ordinary


As a young man Childish spent six months working as an apprentice Stonemason in Chatham’s Dockyard, and in 2011 he returned to the Dockyard as its first official Artist in Residence.

The culmination of this residency will be at the Dockyard’s gallery – No.1 Smithery: The Gallery, whilst other work made during this period will be sent around the world and shown in solo exhibitions in London, Seoul, Berlin and then Los Angeles.

Curated by London based Steve Lowe of L-13 Light Industrial Workshop, the Dockyard exhibition – Frozen Estuary and Other Paintings of the Divine Ordinary will also show a selection of Childish’s recorded and written work along with other background material relating to his life and times in the Medway area. This includes his 5th novel The Stonemason, and Drawings from the Tea Huts of Hell – an infamous collection of drawings he made whilst an apprentice Stonemason that led to his acceptance to Central St Martin’s School of Art.

Billy Childish - Copyright Rikard Osterlund

Billy Childish was born in Chatham, Kent in 1959 and after leaving secondary school at 16 as an undiagnosed dyslexic with no qualifications, worked at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham as an apprentice stonemason.

Initially denied an interview to the local art school, during six months of employment at the dockyard he produced hundreds of drawings that gained him entry to St. Martin’s School of Art. Childish’s defiance to authority and his insistence on integrity and personal style above the formalities of educational requirement led to his eventual expulsion from art school in 1981. Childish then embarked on an artistic, literary, and musical odyssey exploring a broad range of worldly themes including war, history, social protest, art hate, religious philosophy, as well his own experiences of alcoholism, and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.

Over 35 years of continual creative activity Childish has gained a cult status world-wide; writing and publishing over 40 volumes of confessional poetry, 5 novels, recorded over 100 LPs, and painted hundreds of paintings.


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