Cheating Death, Shocking Critics and Goading Farmers ...All in a Day's Work for the Prophet of the Mountains; Landscape Is All to Artist-Climber John Redhead. Just Don't Expect Him to Paint Pretty Pictures of It. Jill Tunstall Meets Him

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), February 19, 2004 | Go to article overview

Cheating Death, Shocking Critics and Goading Farmers ...All in a Day's Work for the Prophet of the Mountains; Landscape Is All to Artist-Climber John Redhead. Just Don't Expect Him to Paint Pretty Pictures of It. Jill Tunstall Meets Him


Byline: Jill Tunstall

WHO is John Redhead?It's not an easy question.

Climber,artist,poet, writer,filmmaker, free spirit, sculptor,thorn in the side of farmers... And you can stick the word controversial in front of any or all of those for good measure.

A prophet perhaps?He looks like one,or, rather,did. The pictures that glare and glower from his polemic book `...and one for the crow',a diary of first ascents of impossibly hard rock climbs, show a wild,messianic stare.

``Redhead's climbing is the greatest form of performance art,''one critic wrote,neatly summing up the man.

The grandson of a Romany,Redhead went to art college, but was thrown out for pursuing his own agenda and came to climbing as, ironically, a way of staying grounded.

``My thing was that I always had to be anchored; I had to bring the work into the world,otherwise I would get totally neurotic,''he says over cups of tea in Pete's Eats, the Llanberis climbers' cafe where he is such a fixture that he has an account.

Today the manic hair is cut short and he almost fades into the scenery in black trousers and grey fleece.

His artwork, whether paint on canvas or words on paper, is controversial and challenging,full of sexual imagery that one critic called `` repulsive in its root misogyny.''

Redhead says this is a matter of interpretation,not his intent.

Vast canvases,meanwhile,are sculpted to mimic the geometry of the rock faces he has climbed on and he encourages everybody to touch the work. ``Kids love this,''he says banging one like a drum.

What there is little doubt over is that Redhead, who moved to North Wales in 1976, was the climber of his generation.

A fearless visionary,he could see routes up rock that others couldn't and spent most of the 1980s seemingly glued to sheer,featureless slabs where one bead of perspiration may have reunited man with his maker.

One,Margins of the Mind,has yet to have a second ascent even after two decades and technological advances in equipment. Was he in the margins of the mind when he did it?

``Yes, there was a spiritual approach to movement on rock,''he says, lam basting the current generation who will work on routes first,practising all the moves with the safety of a rope.

``With meditation, you draw your strength inside and put it out in a different way,''he says of his preferred method.

``But you only know about this kind of stuff if your life depends on it. If your route is safe, you know you can fall and you can practice time and again and know you will climb it without doubt. Whereas to me, that element of doubt was an important ingredient for everything.

``I wanted to get on that route,on my fingertips, where you have to get it together or else you will die. In that margin where things are a bit crazy, a door opens in your head and you can peer inside and work out who you a re. You only find out in adversity.''

He draws a parallel with the quarrymen who created most of the slabs of slate that Redhead climbed in the Llanberis area and who are celebrated in his poem and multimedia presentation Soft Explosive Hard Embrace, which will be premiered at next weekend's Llanberis Film festival,LLAMFF.

Elements of this work, with graphic images of genitalia,Anglo Saxon language and sexual wordplay,has inevitably drawn criticism.

He was once accused of branding the single mothers of Deiniolen as whores,but he insists that was the interpretation of a poem by the local -male -councillors.

``It never mentioned the word whore; that was their reading of it,''he says,explaining that the poem brought the Native American Shaman Kokopelli to the deprived slate town in his painting and poem.

This is challenging stuff but,he smiles, the resulting furore meant he had a huge turn-out for the exhibition then running in Llanberis and many of them people who would never before have visited an art exhibition. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cheating Death, Shocking Critics and Goading Farmers ...All in a Day's Work for the Prophet of the Mountains; Landscape Is All to Artist-Climber John Redhead. Just Don't Expect Him to Paint Pretty Pictures of It. Jill Tunstall Meets Him
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.